Signs of vote-buying in Levan Varshalomidze’s election campaign
On July 18, Transparency International Georgia found that the political party United National Movement (UNM) had been implementing a social housing program in Batumi, which included one of its members Levan Varshalomidze signing individual agreements with the residents of Mejinistskali settlement. To this day, Varshalomidze continues to sign such agreements with citizens living in the Autonomous Republic of Adjara.
According to these agreements, the UNM regional organization, represented by Levan Varshalomidze, takes the obligation to construct multi-apartment buildings at a designated location in Batumi and to transfer these apartments to local residents free of charge. The UNM plans to implement this program gradually, within 4-years after winning the election. The agreement does not specify the source of funding for the program.
The Georgian Election Code prohibits election subjects, candidates for becoming election subjects and their representatives from promising money, securities, or other material assets to the citizens of Georgia. Vote-buying is also prohibited by the Georgian Criminal Code.
Political campaigning should primarily be based on having different programs and ideas, and not on promises of financial / material gains. The actions of the UNM may be construed as an attempt to gain votes from the residents of Mejinistskali settlement in exchange for providing them with housing.
We believe that the above actions of the UNM may contain signs of vote-buying prohibited by the Election Code. Therefore, we call on the Central Election Commission to launch a probe into the issue and, in case of a violation, to take appropriate measures. We also call on all election subjects to refrain from any actions that could be perceived by voters as vote-buying.