Misuse of Administrative Resources during 2017 Local Self-Government Elections in Georgia
As a result of monitoring of 2017 local self-government elections, Transparency International Georgia has identified some negative trends with respect to misuse of administrative resources. Illegal registration of voters in the polling stations in Tbilisi and engagement of the employees of budgetary organizations in the election campaign are the problems that merit particular attention.
Misuse of enforcement administrative resources during electoral processes
In terms of misusing enforcement administrative resources, unlawful registration of voters at the polling stations in Tbilisi was particularly alarming. Instead of eliminating the unacceptable practice, it was further encouraged by the election commissions. In most cases, the applied practice posed serious risks of controlling the voter’s free will and processing personal data. In addition, the process of complaint registration turned out problematic on the Election Day.
As for the pre-election period, various opposition political party candidates were regularily talking about intimidation of their candidates. Other noteworthy cases concerned the problems in staffing the Precinct Election Commissions.
Misuse of legal administrative resources during electoral processes
Several serious problems have been observed regarding the misuse of legal administrative resources during electoral processes. Although the re-assignment of the representatives of the heads of municipalities to non-permanent positions might not be immediately connected to local elections, such events, nevertheless, yielded many questions. The new rule of staffing election commissions was also problematic.
Misuse of institutional administrative resources during electoral processes
Several types of institutional administrative resources have been misused during electoral processes. Compared to other types of administrative resources, the inappropriate use of this type of resource was the most problematic.
What merits attention in this regard, similar to the previous elections, is the fact that the ruling party - the Georgian Dream was mobilizing people employed in budgetary organizations on mass scale to attend election events virtually in every region. At all large-scale election campaign meetings organized by the Georgian Dream that TI Georiga observers attended, the tendency of full mobilization of employees of the budgetary organizations was identified. Although it was difficult to find people who would openly say that they were compelled to attend the meetings, some civil servants voiced their disapproval of the received instructions. What is more, it is hard to imagine that practically all employees of the budgetary organizations would be truly willing to attend the party events and not be driven by other reasons instead. Even if mobilizing civil servants for the electoral campaign was not regarded as a direct violation of the law, at the very least, it did promoted extreme polarization the public service and is therefore unacceptable.
Questions regarding the electoral motivation arose due to the new General Auditor's decision to replace the State Audit Office Deputy Nino Lomjaria, who supervised the monitoring of the financing of the political parties, several weeks before the elections.
The information disseminated by the media organizations according to which the directors of Tbilisi kindergartens were collecting lists of the Georgian Dream supporters caused additional concern. Audio recordings are available which confirm that the Deputy Director of the Kindergarten Management Agency reportedly gave the directors of kindergartens illegal orders. Nevertheless, the Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia could not see the grounds for launching an investigation, which is not quite clear and raises a number of questions.
While dozens of cases of illegal campaigning have been observed, including through social networks, the election administration has not offered adequate response to any of them.
Throughout the reporting period, TI Georiga submitted a total of 16 complaints to the Central and various District Election Commissions concerning the use of institutional administrative resources. Only two complaints were granted. The violations mainly concern the following areas: illegal campaigning on the part of civil servants during working hours, and misuse of administrative resources and official positions by various municipalities.
Misuse of financial administrative resources during electoral processes
No change to the central or local budgets that would violate the Election Code regulations has been identified during the reporting period. As for electorally motivated spending, no particularly problematic trend has been observed in this regard either.