The Open Society Georgia Foundation responds to the parliamentary elections held on October 31, 2020 and the regrettable events that followed. We wish to remind the public that the constitutional amendments made this year and the introduction of the nearly fully proportional electoral system have created real prospects for the legislative body to become more pluralistic and to make effective steps towards forming a coalition government.
However, we share the assessments of international and local partner organizations and believe that both the pre-election period and the Election Day and the vote counting process took place against the background of numerous irregularities. Particularly disturbing was the tendency of blurring the line between the ruling political party and the state, using administrative resources, voter intimidation, bribing voters and attempting to control their free will, that might call into question the legitimacy of the elections and the legislature elected as a result of these elections. Moreover, recognition of the authority of the Parliament by only one political entity will deprive the legislature of the ability to fully exercise the powers conferred to it by the Constitution and the legislation.
Given all the above discussed, on November 8, 2020, the citizens of Georgia protested peacefully near the building of the Parliament of Georgia, and later – near the building of the Central Election Commission of Georgia. During the protests, the law enforcement forces used the special means for dispersing the gathering, in violation of the procedures prescribed by the law, which contributed to the escalation of tensions and led to injuries among the protesters.
We believe that in an extremely polarized environment, in order to defuse the political crisis and return the processes to normal state, it is crucial to ensure the following:
- The Central Election Commission should use all legal means at its disposal to recount the votes and announce fair results;
- The head of the Central Election Commission must take responsibility for the current situation and ensure a fair vote count, or resign;
- The government must ensure the normalization of the process and negotiations with political entities;
- The government should refrain from unjustified and disproportionate interference with constitutional rights, including illegitimate restrictions on freedom of expression;
- Opposition political forces should ensure peaceful execution of their constitutional rights, de-escalate the situation and, through negotiations, defuse the political crisis;
- The parties should use all legal means to protect the electoral rights of every citizen.
- International organizations and partners should continue their efforts to mediate negotiations between political entities.
We hope that politicians will manage to resolve problematic issues through negotiations and will not endanger the steady development of the country and the unwavering adherence to the principles of a democratic state.