Misuse of administrative resources ahead of the 2014 municipal elections
13 June 2014, Tbilisi – TI Georgia presented today a new monitoring report which includes findings of the misuse of administrative resources during the 2014 municipal elections. The report covers the period from January 1, 2014 to June 12.
The second report analyses the expenses and incomes of political parties during the presidential election campaign. It also examines the annual financial statements of the political parties whose candidates received over 10% votes in the 2013 presidential elections.
Through our monitoring of the period from January 1, 2014 to June 12, we have found less cases of misuse of administrative resources than during the 2012 parliamentary elections. However, our reports uncovers more issues than during the 2013 presidential elections.
Misuse of executive administrative resources for election purposes
There are a few notable cases in this category:
- In May, we first heard of cases of alleged pressure put on candidates to withdraw from the electoral race. This was the most problematic issue throughout the entire pre-election campaign and has had a negative impact on the electoral environment. Our information shows that up to 50 candidates from 6 different oppositional parties have presumably withdrawn their candidacy due to pressures. Those cases occurred in 15 different electoral districts throughout 8 different regions.
- Our report shows that there have been cases of opposition candidates being summoned for questioning to the law enforcement agencies. Lawsuits have also been launched against some of them. This has occurred in Khoni, Dusheti, Kobuleti and Kvareli. It is to be noted that prosecution of opposition candidates has not become regular practice. This might be due to the Prime Minister calling upon the law enforcement agencies to show restraint from questioning oppositional candidates in the pre-electoral period on April, 14th 2014.
Misuse of legislative administrative resources for election purposes
The following cases have been noted in this category:
- The introduction of a legislative initiative that bars independent candidates from running for the post of a mayor and municipal governor.
- Provisions of the Amendments to the Law on Public Service under which all civil servants employed at local self-government bodies, including those appointed through competition, shall be considered as serving ad interim after the scheduled 2014 local elections,
- Inconsistency in the Central Electoral Commission’s decisions to remove or retain candidates for the elections.
Misuse of institutional administrative resources for election purposes
These are the following noteworthy cases in this category:
- Acting public servants were (informally) presented as candidates months before the pre-electoral campaign. This was specifically the case with the Tbilisi mayoral candidates David Narmania and Nika Melia, the Batumi mayoral candidate David Ermakov, the Kutaisi mayoral candidate Shota Murgulia, the Poti mayoral candidate Irakli Kakulia and the Rustavi mayoral candidate Davit Jikia.
- Specific individuals gave out gifts – bought on state funds – to the population. This has been the case in Khobi, Rustavi, Gardabani, Akhmeta, Kareli and Adigeni.
Misuse of financial administrative resources for election purposes
There are a few notable cases in this category:
- The budgetary program of the Dusheti municipality was increased. This is a clear violation of law.
- The budgetary financing of several projects was increased one or two days ahead of the start of the pre-electoral campaign in Vani, Kharagauli, Bolnisi, Chiatura, Ozurgeti, Kaspi, Khashuri, Zestafoni, Telavi, Ambrolauri, Oni, Khobi and Mtskheta.
- In addition to the increase in municipal budget spending, there have been cases of increasing social aid on the central or municipal level. This will undoubtedly entail additional changes in the budget after the elections. The mentioned cases have taken place in Lanchkhuti, Bolnisi, Khoni and Sachkhere.
- In certain cases, the central government has proposed initiatives that were purely motivated by election purposes. The presentation of several programs during the pre-election period can be considered as a means for the central government to propel its local candidates to victories. Two relevant examples are the program on financial assistance to large families and the program ‘Produce in Georgia’.
The work of the Central Election Commission (CEC)
The Central Election Commission played a crucial role in forming the electoral environment in 2014:
- We positively assess CEC’s order of the 3rd June which addressed the issue of the annulation of city council party lists. This initiative removed the danger faced by opposition candidates to have their proportional lists cancelled in several municipalities.
- However, the CEC has also acted inconsistent, for example, when it approved the removal of the candidature of the Marneuli governor, Akmamed Imamkuliev, from the electoral register.
The work of the State Audit Office
The state audit office’s monitoring of the financial activities of political parties can be positively assessed. Unlike 2012, the audit office did not exhibit a different approach in its work with various political parties.
Work of the Parliamentary Inter-Faction Group
The group introduced a high number of legislative amendments; however most of them were of a technical nature. In spite of the involvement of political parties and NGOs, there have been no major changes to the electoral system. Overall, the inter-faction groups were apparently unable to make important independent decisions.
The work of the Inter-Agency Task Force for Free and Fair Elections
- The composition of the commission was approved by the Ministry of Justice on 3rd April. The first sitting was held on April 11. However, it should be noted that the commission violated the law by commencing its work later than it was obliged to.
- After having begun its work, the Commission issued 18 recommendations. In spite of this, in some cases the recommendations and statements of the Commission have not been followed through.
- There has also been a serious difficulty with the inconsistent investigation by law enforcement agencies of the alleged cases of pressure put on candidates to withdraw from the electoral race.
The report is made possible by the generous support of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents are the responsibility of TI Georgia and do not necessarily reflect the views of the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), USAID or the United States Government.