Tbilisi, Georgia—In a statement released today, IRI concluded that Georgia’s runoff parliamentary elections, held October 30, were conducted without major problems and appeared to reflect the will of the Georgian people.
These findings are based on the reports of 10 observer teams (20 observers) deployed across the country, and are consistent with IRI’s preliminary statement released following the first round of elections, held October 8. Preliminary results from the Central Election Commission (CEC) indicate that the Georgia Dream party will win 48 of the 50 seats contested in the second round. The results will be verified by November 19, and if correct would give Georgia Dream a constitutional majority of 115 out of 150 seats.
“It is encouraging to see the Georgian people conduct their runoff elections in a manner consistent with international standards of electoral fairness, and IRI congratulates Georgia Dream on their victory,” said Stephen Nix, IRI Regional Director, Eurasia. “It is crucial that the government use its constitutional majority prudently, and carry out impartial investigations into complaints alleging election-related irregularities. Going forward, we urge all parties to focus on policies rather than personalities, and work for the good of the Georgian people.”
Voter turnout diminished by 13 percent between the two rounds (from 51 percent on October 8 to 37.5 on October 30), a development which may have been influenced by distaste for the personalized attacks between Georgia Dream and the leading opposition party, United National Movement (UNM). IRI’s observers noted that the Election Commission appeared to be better prepared in its conduct of the runoff elections than in the first round, but continue to note problems with transparency relating to complaints of irregularities and the heightened atmosphere of distrust between the political parties. IRI also has concerns about continued pre-election pressure and intimidation targeted at opposition candidates and activists, as outlined in IRI’s third long-term observation report, released on October 27.
IRI’s long-term observers have been on the ground in Georgia since August 1, conducting more than 1,000 interviews and meetings with election stakeholders throughout the country. Their areas of formal deployment included: Ajara, Samegrelo, Imereti, Samtskhe- Javakheti, Kvemo-Kartli and Kakheti. The observers released interim reports of their findings in September and October. A final report by the long-term observers will be released later this year.
IRI in Georgia
IRI has worked in Georgia since 1999, supporting the development of a multi-party political system and helping parties to build their regional party structures. The team works under the leadership of Resident Country Director Andrea Keerbs and IRI Regional Director for Eurasia Stephen Nix. Using reputable, methodologically-sound public opinion polling, IRI works with all the major parties to develop more positive, issue-based platforms and campaigns. IRI helps to strengthen electoral processes by conducting international election observation missions—most recently for the 2012 parliamentary and 2013 presidential elections, and assessment missions for both rounds of the 2014 local elections.
Under the terms of a Cooperative Agreement with the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Office of Democracy and Governance, IRI deployed six teams of long- term and 14 teams of short-term observers to monitor and report on the pre-election environment and Election Day activities in population centers across Georgia. The teams are responsible for cataloging complaints regarding voter intimidation, voter list errors, and other election-related irregularities prior to and on Election Day, and verifying the claims when possible.
Special thanks: IRI wishes to thank USAID for its support in this observation mission, as well as in our ongoing work in Georgia. Additionally, we wish to thank the U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi for its assistance, both in election day preparations and throughout the period of IRI’s work in Georgia. IRI also thanks the Jarl Hjalmarsson Foundation from Sweden for its contributions.