Transparency International Georgia publishes interim report on Misuse of Administrative Resources during Electoral Processes
During the reporting period from June 1 to October 10, Transparency International Georgia has observed a negative trend in the misuse of administrative resources for the upcoming local self-government elections. According to the report, these instances could have had a negative effect on the electoral process. Particularly alarming was the engagement of the employees of budgetary organizations in the election campaign.
During the reporting period, TI Georgia has filed 16 complaints in Central and District Election Commissions on the misuse of the administrative resources. Out of these 16 complaints, one has been satisfied, 10 have been rejected and five are being investigated.
Misuse of institutional administrative resources during electoral processes
Compared to the use of other types of administrative resources, the misuse of the institutional administrative resources during electoral processes has been particularly alarming:
- In all regions, there have been cases of the mobilization of employees of budgetary organizations for the election campaign events of the ruling party Georgian Dream. It was difficult to find civil servants who would openly admit to having been forced to attend these events. Nevertheless, a number of civil servants have expressed their discontent to us in private about the instructions they had received. Mobilization of civil servants for these purposes leads to an extreme politicization of the civil service;
- The new Auditor General replaced the deputy Auditor General, Nino Lomjaria, several weeks prior to the elections. This decision was alarming in light of the fact that Lomjaria was in charge of supervising the monitoring of political party funding;
- Particularly alarming was the information circulated by media related to the collection of lists of supporters for Georgian Dream by kindergarten directors. There are audio recordings that allegedly capture the Deputy Director of the Kindergarten Management Agency giving out illegal orders to kindergarten directors. Unfortunately, in spite of these claims, the Prosecutor’s Office found no basis for an investigation;
- Based on the documents obtained by TI Georgia, Lado Shvelidze, the Governor's representative of the Georgian Dream in Zugdidi, Kulishkari village, has delivered a list of civil servants to Davit Kodua, the Head of the Georgian Dream Office. The list includes names and ID numbers marked by 'Minus', 'Plus', or 'Question Mark'. We believe this to be the violation of the Election Code of Georgia, namely the prohibition of use of the official position for election purposes, as well as a breach of the Law of Georgia on Personal Data Protection;
- There have been various reports, including on social networks, pointing to a handful of violations of election campaigning rules. TI Georgia found that on Facebook, all instances of unlawful political campaigning were made in favor of the ruling party.
Misuse of enforcement administrative resources during electoral processes
- The selection process of members for the Precinct Election Commissions (PECs) based on professional qualifications was mired in problems. Opposition political parties claimed that District Electoral Commissions (DECs) had a special list and appointed members to the PECs based on their loyalty to the ruling party. An opposition party in Telavi disclosed one such list. TI Georgia compared the names on this list to the members appointed by the DEC and there was a complete match. This only further reinforced suspicions that the selection process was only formal and that the real decisions were made within the ruling party;
- During the reporting period, the Municipality of Dmanisi has been under the spotlight. The incumbent Governor and Tbilisi Mayoral candidate, Giorgi Barbakadze, has accused Georgian Dream of forcing him to withdraw his candidacy. According to Barbakadze, the ruling party coerced the locals of Irganchai Village to swear on the Quran in order to get their votes. According to the Ministry of International Affairs (MIA), this information has been confirmed by the locals and a formal investigation has been launched;
Misuse of the legal administrative resources during electoral processes
- The transfer of the so-called ‘Village Trustees from permanent to temporary positions has raised number of questions. This decision has affected 168 representatives of the Samegrelo - Zemo Svaneti Municipality. In our opinion, these actions are incompatible with the law and can have a negative impact on the electoral process. In private talks with TI Georgia, a number of village trustees have told us that they believed their jobs depended on the outcome of the elections.
- The Prosecutor's Office should launch an investigation on the alleged facts of illegal orders issued by the Deputy Director of the Tbilisi Kindergarten Management Agency to the kindergarten directors;
- It is imperative that the rules of appointing officials within election commissions are improved and held with clearly defined qualification requirements. The procedures for selecting candidates should be elaborated in a manner that will diminish the chances of political parties appointing their own activists;
- Heads of budgetary organizations should refrain from involving their employees in unlawful political campaigning events;
- Civil servants should not engage in political campaigning during their office hours, especially if they are using administrative resources for this purpose;
The Final Report will be published in November.