Appeal of NGOs to the President of Georgia regarding the change of the date of elections - საერთაშორისო გამჭვირვალობა - საქართველო
GEO

Appeal of NGOs to the President of Georgia regarding the change of the date of elections

03 July, 2013

 

On July 1, 2013, we learned about the President’s decision on the announcement of the date of the presidential elections. The President’s Administration had first announced October 27 as the date of the next presidential elections, though later the election date was changed and, according to the President’s decree, it will be held on October 31.

The change of the election date caused discontent in the public, because October 31, 2013, is Thursday and a weekday. Some people also expressed the opinion that the President didn’t have the right to schedule the presidential elections on a weekday. This opinion is based on a norm in Article 6 of the Election Code, according to which ‘An election (except for a presidential election)/referendum/plebiscite may be held on any day of the week.’ This norm gives rise to the opinion that presidential elections cannot be held on any day of the week, although neither the Election Code nor any other law specifies on which day it is allowed to hold presidential elections. It is noteworthy that the said norm of the Code coexisted with the norm of the Constitution which specified that presidential elections were to be held on the second Sunday of April after the termination of the President’s term in office. This norm is no longer included in the Constitution; accordingly, we believe that the disputed norm of Article 6 of the Election Code constitutes a deficiency and the President was entitled to determine the date of the presidential elections himself within the limits of the applicable legislation.

Despite the fact that the President scheduled the presidential elections on October 31, 2013, Thursday, holding the elections in the middle of the working week is, we think, quite problematic due to several factors. In particular:

  • According to Article 6 of the Election Code, the day of elections is announced as a holiday, although this circumstance creates quite a serious problem for citizens of Georgia living abroad. They are practically unable to exercise their right to vote when the elections are held on a weekday, because, for them, the presidential elections of Georgia will be an ordinary working day rather than a holiday. The severity of this problem was also manifested at the time of the parliamentary elections of October 1, 2012.
  • Holding the elections in the middle of the working week also creates a certain obstacle for citizens living in Georgia because voters often have to go to their place of registration, which makes it necessary to travel from one city/town to another and for which it is not enough to announce one working day as a holiday.
  • We believe that the President of Georgia should use his powers to determine the date of elections in a way that will contribute as much as possible to high voter turnout both within the country and abroad and should ensure that each citizen is able to exercise his/her right to vote. Otherwise, citizens of Georgia may become nihilistic about electoral processes, which is a serious threat to democratic society.  

Considering the aforementioned factors, since we believe that holding the presidential elections on a Sunday is an important factor for the realization of electoral rights of our compatriots living both in Georgia and abroad, we call on the President of Georgia to choose the most effective, simple, and timely way out of this situation and to announce one of the Sundays in October as the date of the elections by amending his decree on scheduling the date of elections.

International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy

Transparency International Georgia

Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association

Article 42 of the Constitution

Public Movement – Multinational Georgia

Human Rights Education and Monitoring Center

Georgian Democracy Initiative

Center for Development and Democracy

Research Center for Electoral and Political Technologies

Civil Society and Democracy Development Center

Human Rights Center

Public Advocacy

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