More Benefit to People – a Governmental Program or a Name of a Political Party
On July 2012 the Georgian Government introduced a new governmental program – More benefit to people. The program aims the creation of new jobs, increase in social aid, etc. The program was subject to number of promotion/PR campaigns financed from the state budget.
Despite the fact that the program was design by the Georgian government, the ruling party has built its entire electoral campaign on this slogan – More benefit to people, and even used it as a part of its official name while registering for the elections – “United National Movement – More Benefit to People”.
According to Articles 25(2) and 25(21) of the Law of Georgia on Political Unions of Citizens, tangible or intangible property received by a political party or given away on its behalf and free of charge, constitutes a donation made donated to that political party.
Given the fact that political union “United National Movement – More Benefit to People” has named itself after the name of a governmental program, which at the same time is the main slogan and motto of the government, it is almost impossible for the electorate to distinguish between the government and the ruling party.
Due to this fact, the advertisement and projects carried out by the Georgian government as a part of the mentioned program, may be considered as intangible property received by the United National Movement from the government, while the social aid or other projects sponsored by the government – as tangible or intangible property given by the government on behalf of the ruling party.
Even in case the government is not intentionally seeking to advertise the ruling party, it is clear that by promoting its program the government at the same time helps the United National Movement to be advertised in the eyes of the voters because both the governmental program and the political union registered by the ruling party for the elections share the same name. For its part, the government has not ensured drawing a clear line of distinction between itself and the ruling party.
According to subparagraph b of Article 26(1) of the Law on Political Unions of Citizens it is prohibited for the state to make contribution in favor of any party. In addition the OSCE Copenhagen Document requires a clear distinction between a state and a political party.
Consequently, keeping in mind the objectives and values of the Law on Political Unions of Citizens and the Copenhagen Document, we urge the Government of Georgia and the United National Movement to ensure that the activities carried out by the government and electoral campaign carried out by the political party are distinguishable by the electorate.