Misuse of Administrative Resources during political processes 2016 parliamentary elections
The monitoring conducted by TI Georgia for the period between 8 June and 30 November 2016 revealed that misuse of administrative resources for parliamentary elections has not reached the scale to have a significant impact on overall election environment.
MISUSE OF ENFORCEMENT ADMINISTRATIVE RESOURCES FOR ELECTION PURPOSES
In the run-up to elections, some political parties frequently made statements about the pressure being exerted on their election candidates and their supporters by the law enforcement agencies. However, it turned out rather difficult to verify/confirm most of the reported cases. In some instances, alleged victims of the pressure refrained from disclosing greater details on the facts while in others, the facts could not substantiated. Political parties frequently claimed as well that employees of the State Security Service attended their campaign meetings. The election process has been adversely affected by personal video and audio recordings of various political party leaders disseminated via Internet. It is noteworthy that the law enforcement authorities could not succeed in investigating any of the facts and authors or distributors of the tapes remain unknown. Moreover, a few weeks prior to the elections, the Chief Prosecutor introduced to the public a new video footage depicting dispersal of 26 May 2011 rally and put charges on the former Head of the Constitutional Security Department, Data Akhalaia. Release of the video footage five years later, just shortly before the elections casts serious doubts on the electoral motives behind the given act. The period between the first and second rounds of elections have been characterized with one of most alarming trends of using enforcement administrative resources. During a week prior to the runoff elections, we detected over ten cases of intimidataion on political grounds. Despite a frequency of such allegations, investigative bodies have not taken sufficient measures to investigate them. Police started an investigation of one case in Akhaltsikhe, when an activist of United National Movement - opposition political party – was physically attacked. However, the investigation has started under not very relevant article. After the first round of elections leaders of certain political porties have been speaking of intimidation and bribery of their members appointed in election commissions. However, law-emforcement bodies have not started investigation of these facts.
MISUSE OF LEGISLATIVE ADMINISTRATIVE RESOURCES FOR ELECTION PURPOSES
We have observed no serious cases concerning misuse of legal administrative resources for election purposes. We have not detected either mobilization of the state agencies or evident bias in favor of or against any political party. Nevertheless, there were cases when decisions adopted by some administrative agencies were unfair or illegal, as we believe. In this light, the new rule adopted by the Parliament on distribution of free advertising time, two decrees of the CEC and one decree of the Chairperson of CEC on state funding are worth mentioning.
MISUSE OF INSTITUTIONAL ADMINISTRATIVE RESOURCES FOR ELECTION PURPOSES
During the reporting period, a wide range of institutional administrative resources has been misused for election purposes; however, it has not reached the scale to bear a significant impact on the election environment. In all regions of Georgia, large-scale mobilization of employees of the budgetary organizations has been observed for campaign meetings of the ruling party Georgian Dream. These meetings usually were counducted after working hours or weekends. There were certain cases of illegal campaigning, including through the social network. Advertising by the State Agencies through video ads, SMS messages and other communication channels has become rather frequent both for first and second rounds of elections.
MISUSE OF FINANCIAL ADMINISTRATIVE RESOURCES FOR ELECTION PURPOSES
According to the Election Code of Georgia, apart from exceptional cases, it is prohibited to increase public funding and initiate new budgetary programs for 60 days prior to the elections. During the reporting period, no amendments have been made to the central or local budget; otherwise, it would be viewed as violation of the above-mentioned regulation. For 60 days before the Election Day, i.e. from August 8, several municipalities have amendended their budgets. Although, all of them seem to fit into the overall framework of the law. As for the electorally motivated public spending, i.e. cases when the budgetary programs are initiated a few months before the elections mostly to win the votes, two initiatives of the Government are worth mentioning: a) increase of retirement pension from July and b) benefits introduced in mountainous settlements from September 1.