Who is responsible for verifying political party documents during election registration
On July 15, 2016, the Chairperson of the Georgian Central Election Commission (CEC) illegally registered a political party – Centrists as an election subject. According to the Public Registry, the Centrists party did not have an authorized representative, making its registration for elections illegal according to the electoral legislation. On August 16, the CEC Chairperson canceled the party registration.
The Georgian Election Code sets the following procedure for party registration:
- The CEC Chairperson is authorized to register or cancel the registration of a political party as a subject of parliamentary elections.
- In order to be granted the right to participate in parliamentary elections, a political party must submit a relevant statement signed by its leader(s) to the CEC Chairperson.
- The CEC Chairperson is obligated to first verify the document confirming the authority of a party representative (chairperson/director) and then discuss the compliance of registration documents submitted by the party with the requirements of the Election Code.
- During verification, the CEC Chairperson must take into account the fact that the presumption of authenticity and completeness applies only to data held by the Public Registry. Information about political party leadership and representatives that is available on the Public Registry website is public and accessible to all interested persons.
- Upon timely submission of all required documents by a political party, the CEC Chairperson makes the final decision on granting registration as an election subject.
In this particular case, the CEC Chairperson has pointed to lack of relevant information as the reason for incorrect registration. According to the Chairperson, the Public Registry was responsible for providing CEC with a timely update about its decision regarding the Centrists party. However, since CEC is an administrative body, it must abide by the requirements of the Administrative Code, according to which, during the decision-making process, the CEC is required to:
- Launch administrative proceedings;
- Verify representatives;
- Halt proceedings upon receiving incomplete documentation and provide a new deadline to the applicant;
- If the applicant fails to submit the requested documents or information within the new deadline, the CEC is authorized to permanently halt the process of considering their application.
Moreover, the CEC Chairperson granted registration to the Centrists party on July 15, 2016, shortly after the Law on Political Unions of Citizens was amended (June 20) to allow changes in party leadership to enter into force only after their registration with the Public Registry.
We call on the Chairperson of the Central Election Commission to exercise greater caution when registering political parties as election subjects, and to fully examine and verify the accordance of submitted documents with the requirements of the law. In order to avoid similar inaccuracies and make sure that they do not have a negative effect on election results, we urge the CEC to reconsider all of its decision on granting registration and to take appropriate legal measures in case of violation.
Transparency International Georgia
Civil Development Agency (CiDA)