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Overview of the first and second Rounds of the Parliamentary Elections in Kvemo Kartli

30.11.2020

 
Salome Chkheidze, Kvemo Kartli

The 2020 Parliamentary Elections were held in Georgia under a revised electoral system. The citizens of Georgia elected the legislature with a model that is close to the proportional system. However, due to irregularities in the election process, opposition parties and part of the public do not recognize the results. Some of the NGOs believe that the October 31 elections were marked by a low degree of democracy, which would significantly hamper the sustainable development of the country.

It can be said that in the pre-election period, the election campaigns of the political parties were carried out without any significant restrictions, however, there were cases of violent controversies, and some facts of pressures on voters and journalists and some other facts of intimidations. In this respect, Kvemo Kartli region was a particularly salient example. The multiplicity of the mentioned cases and the impunity of the persons involved in them evoked a feeling among the public that   investigative bodies are politically biased.  
 
The logical continuation of the pre-election processes was the election day of October 31. which also marked by a large number of violations in Kvemo Kartli. 
 
Kvemo Kartli is divided into 3 constituencies:
 
  • District N 12 - Rustavi Municipality and administrative units within Gardabani Municipality that of Norio, Martkopi, Akhalsopeli, Sartichala, Gamarjveba, Akhali Samgori, Lemshvenieri, Teleti, Kumisa and Krtsanisi  
  • District N 13 Marneuli and Gardabani Municipalities (except the administrative units of Norio, Martkopi, Akhalsopeli, Sartichala, Gamarjveba, Akhali Samgori, Lemshvenieri, Teleti, Kumisa and Krtsanisi  )  
  • District N 14 - Bolnisi, Dmanisi, Tetritskaro and Tsalka Municipalities
More or less similar types of violations were reported in all three constituencies. There were electioneers mobilized at and near to the polling stations, further the violation of the secrecy of the ballot and the facts of multiple voting by the same persons were revealed. There were verbal confrontations in and around the polling stations, obstruction of observers, and the facts of failure to record the complaints on the part of the chairpersons of the commissions and some other facts.    
 
There were 2092 complaints filed with the district election commissions on the election day and days after by local observer organisations and electoral subjects concerning the Elections of October 31, 2020.

“The problem stemmed from the fact of publishing the initial results of the elections by the Central Election Commission in late, particularly after 7 hours from closing the election precincts which can be assessed as a setback in the last 8 years practice. The publication of the initial results in late raised questions among the public of fair counting of the votes,” reads the statement disseminated by one of the observer organisations, Transparency International Georgia. 
 
In the majority of summary protocols drawn up at the election precincts, the numerical data including the numbers of the voters coming in, the numbers of votes cast, and the numbers of invalid ballots papers were misrepresented which was instantly identified and objected by the NGOs and opposition parties.  Due to such misrepresented figures, on the second day of the elections, in parallel with the hearings of the complaints at the district election commissions, a number of amendment  protocols and explanatory statements were attached to the above summary protocols.

Human Rights Center (HRC) herewith presents the  statistics on amendment protocols and explanatory notes of the election precincts in all three constituencies monitored in Kvemo Kartli. 
  •  Out of 124 precincts available in Rustavi constituency, in the case of 47 precincts the amendment protocols or explanatory notes are attached to the summary protocols amounting to 38% of the total number of summary protocols in the constituency. 
  • The summary protocol drawn up at 124 precincts of Marneuli and Gardabani constituencies, the amendment protocols ans explanatory notes are attached to the  summary protocols of 51 precincts representing 41% of the total number of the summary protocols in these constituencies. 
  • Within the region of Kvemo Kartli, the highest number of amendment protocols and explanatory notes were identified in the municipal constituencies of Bolnisi, Dmanisi, Tetritskaro and Tsalka.  Out of 202 precincts, 92 precincts needed to draw up  amendment protocols amounting to 45.5% of the total number of summary protocols in these constituencies.
As we can see, out of the total summary protocols drawn at 450 precincts located in Kvemo Kartli, errors were found in the summary protocols of 190 precincts representing nearly half i.e. 42.2% of the summary protocols drawn up in the region. (pic 1)

The imbalances evident in the summary protocols of the polls of October 31, further the existence of the overwritten protocols along with the amendment protocols drawn up based on the verbal explanations of the members of the precinct commissions while the filed complaints thereon were left unheard or were rejected, further the refusal on the part of the election administration to recount the problematic precincts, made the doubts even more strong with regard the credibility of the drawn up amended protocols. 

The opposition parties regard the elections as rigged. Therefore, they refused to take up seats in the Parliament and to take part in the second round of the Elections. The opposition demands new elections.

Despite the opposition boycott, the second round of elections was held on November 21 in the constituencies where the majoritarian candidates failed to garner more than 50% of the votes, including in Rustavi election district N 12. 

Nino Latsabidze, the majoritarian candidate from the ruling party Georgian Dream - Democratic Georgia and Davit Kirkitadze, the majoritarian candidate from United National Movement - United Opposition - Strength in Unity opposed each other.

"A significant problem was that the opposition parties recalled the representatives from the election commissions causing the reduction in the number of the commission members. Therefore, counting officers could not be assigned during the ballot counting process as only one party may not count the votes.  Thus, the representatives of district election commissions were acting as counting officers,” said Nestan Londaridze, HRC observer in Kvemo Kartli. 

Notwithstanding the fact that the number of voters was significantly lower in the second round of the elections with only 2 candidates on the ballot papers, the second round   could escape the errors in the summary protocols either.  Out of the 124 summary protocols of the electoral district N12 that are uploaded to the website of the CEC, 21 protocols still bear amendment protocols and explanatory notes.(pic 2)

“In the monitoring reports of some of the recent elections, observer organizations have always focused on the mistakes and shortcomings made by the representatives of the election administration.  We stated that the irregularities observed in the elections were largely caused not so much by the attempted deliberate rigging of the elections, but by incompetence and unpreparedness. Therefore, we have always recommended the CEC to better prepare the election administration. When observing the Elections of the current year, it was evident that the election commissions made more mistakes and gaps, especially at the counting stage, when the voting was over and an objective counting of votes was required. It was at this point that the errors in the summary protocols raised the suspicion that we were dealing not only with unskilled work but also with deliberate actions. Such suspicions are raised by the fact that most of the mistakes ended in beneficial outcomes for the ruling party Georgian Dream. However, the mistakes made in the second round still point to the fact that incompetence and unpreparedness remain a major problem for the election administration,” said Aleko Tskitishvili, HRC executive director. 

As for the rest, the second round, unlike the first, was more or less peaceful. At all the precincts, there were so-called coordinators albeit in less numbers.   The main problem was the low voter turnout.  In the majoritarian constituency N 12, out of 141,453 registered voters, 75,000 voters  appeared to the first round of the elections while only 39,309 participated in the second round. 


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