“Philanthropic” National Movement
“United National Movement - free soup-kitchen for the financially disadvantaged”. This sign was hanging on the soup kitchen’s door in Ozurgeti up until 15:10p.m on 17th of February, 2012. A similar signboard was found in Zugdidi and Dusheti at the entrance of free dining-halls. These facts constitute the direct violation of several laws.
According to new election legislation, it is forbidden for political parties to conduct charity activities as well as bribe potential electorate. Besides, political party cannot provide any service free of charge no matter where the resources come from. Therefore, incident calls for immediate action of the state agencies.
These types of actions not only strictly violate Georgian legislation, but also represent an example of misuse of administrative resources. As we found out, free dining-hall projects are being funded locally through municipal budgets. In this case indicating the name of a political party is not acceptable. Political parties must not use state resources for their own interests. Moreover, the overlap between state activities and that of any political party is against internationally recognized norms. According to the OSCE Copenhagen document, there should be a clear separation between government and political parties. Moreover, the government should provide political parties or other organizations with the necessary legal guarantees to enable them to compete with each other on a basis of equal treatment before the law and by the authorities.
It is worth noting that Election Code of Georgia does not prohibit parties to display pre-election campaigning materials on buildings and other locations if the owner provides consent. However, the owner’s consent is not sufficient for the display of campaigning material on buildings which receive funds from the budget of the government or local self-government. Even though the pre-election period hasn’t started yet, this may still be classified as a misuse of administrative resources.
We address the Central Election Commission and Chamber of Control's unit for monitoring of political financing to take note of the aforementioned facts and act in accordance with Georgian legislation.
We would like to thank the following persons for contributing to our blog:
Shorena Glonti: Guria News
Eliso Janashia: TSPRESS
Manana Kveliashvili: Mskheta-Mtianeti Information Centre