DG II/Inf(2011)32 22 November 2011

Programme to support Georgia in view of the 2012 (parliamentary), 2013 (presidential) and 2014 (local) elections

Document prepared by the Directorate General of Democracy

1. Introduction

Three rounds of national and local elections will be held in Georgia in the next three years:

    - Parliamentary (2012):
    - Presidential (2013);
    - Local (2014).

International observer’s reports from previous elections (extraordinary presidential elections in January 2008; parliamentary in May 2008 and local in May 2010) underlined efforts to conduct elections in line with international standards, but at the same time they highlighted the remaining issues to be addressed in the future.

During recent visits of the Secretariat to Georgia, CoE assistance in the framework of the upcoming elections was discussed with the relevant authorities (CEC and Ministry of Education), which requested support in the capacity building assistance for the Central Electoral Commission (CEC); notably on the new electoral legislation, training of national observers (which is already being addressed through the CoE Eastern Partnership Facility, EaP Facility), especially from all political parties, media monitoring during the electoral campaign, voters’ awareness raising (especially first-time voters, women and voters from ethnic minorities). This programme will focus on the above, with the addition of an Audit of Voters Lists component.

This will also be in line with international observers’ comments, including the last one on the local elections of May 2010 by the OSCE/ODIHR and the CoE’s Congress of Local and Regional Authorities (“The authorities made efforts to pro-actively address problems, including improving the quality of the voter lists. Nevertheless, the low level of public confidence in the election process persisted. The observers said further efforts in resolutely tackling recurring misconduct are required in order to consolidate the progress achieved and enhance public trust before the next national elections.”). Special attention is already being provided to the electoral legal framework, with the support of the Venice Commission.

The Council of Europe’s action in the field will be co-ordinated by the Office in Tbilisi with the main international community representatives present in Tbilisi, to secure proper synergies. This draft Programme has been designed in such a way as to avoid overlap with other partners’ plans and national initiatives.

Partner organisations for the implementation of the draft Programme will include relevant national public authorities as well as NGOs.

Subject to the decisions to be taken by the Committee of Ministers, the implementation of the Draft Programme for CoE support to elections in Georgia is expected to start as from January 2012.

The overall budget: estimate amounts to € 642 000. The available budget is of € 215 000, including with the budget of the Venice Commission Partial Agreement. It is also recalled that Georgia benefits from the Eastern Partnership Facility, which sponsors specific activities to support electoral standards for the six partner countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine). Voluntary contributions, for a total of € 427 000 will be required in order to totally fund the proposals.

APPENDIX I TABLE OF PROJECTS

Action

Budget estimate

Responsibility for implementation (CoE)

1. PACE and CONGRESS Observation Missions

   

2. LEGISLATIVE FRAMEWORK and ITS IMPLEMENTATION

 

(DG-II / VC)

2.1 Venice Commission’s expertise is provided for the improvement of the electoral code.

p.m. Budget of the Enlarged Agreement

Venice Commission (VC)

2.2 Following the revision of the electoral code, 3 conferences, one after each election cycle, on the general legal and democratic framework for elections for political parties’ leaders, members of the electoral commissions, media and NGOs representatives to discuss the implementation of electoral and related legislation.

€ 60 000

DG-II
SPS in Tbilisi

2.3 Translation into Georgian (when necessary), printing, distribution and presentation at specialised session of relevant material, notably:

    - the CEC handbook for polling stations officers, (to be produced in cooperation with the CEC Training Centre and civil society);

    - publication/printing of the Code of good practice of the Venice Commission opinion(s)-(N.B. this already exists in Georgian);

    - The media and elections handbook (to be produced in cooperation with the CEC Training Centre): this is a practical guide for journalists on the coverage of election campaigns which will allow them to apply professional standards on fairness, balance and impartiality in their daily work

    - Handbook for election observers and promotional material on the CEC (to be produced in cooperation with the CEC Training Centre);

Printing and distribution of approximately 20,000 copies to be done.

p.m. EaP Facility

DG-II/ Tbilisi Office

3. VOTERS’ LISTS

   

3.1 Expertise is provided to the Special Commission established on the agreement between political parties, in order to improve voters list, inter alia, through the conduct of door to door campaign.

€ 40 000

DG-II + CoE Office Tbilisi

3.2 An educational information campaign aimed at raising general awareness on voters’ lists.

   

3.3 Conduct a voters’ lists audit at a suitable time in all election districts of the country with the aim of assessing the overall accuracy of the preliminary voters’ lists.

€ 100 000

DG-II + CoE Office Tbilisi

4. TRAINING OF THE ELECTORAL ADMINISTRATION

   

4.1 Capacity building of the CEC and of the electoral administration at all levels, notably to implement the identified changes to the Election Law and other legislation relevant to the electoral process (activities under this item will be co-ordinated with UNDP).

€ 30 000 (of which
€ 15 000 are available from Venice Commission budget)

Venice Commission

4.2 Training on the amendments to the electoral law and related legislation for political parties and media.

€ 30 000

DGII

4.3 Capacity-building seminar with the CEC of Georgia and the EMBs of the six Eastern Partnerships Facility countries.

p.m. EaP Facility

Venice Commission

5. MEDIA

   

5.1 Three Conferences “Making democracy work – the role of freedom of the press in free and fair elections”, after each round of elections. The target group will be newspaper editors, directors of TV chains and radio stations. This conference would be based on the interim report of the media monitoring process (point 4.1 above).

€ 45 000

DG-II

DG-I Media Division

5.2 Capacity-building for editors on responsible journalism and editorial choice
Organisation of study visits to other countries under elections in order to promote freedom of speech, balanced and factual reporting, including when covering activities of the authorities.
Special attention will be paid to the Public Service Broadcaster.
The study visits aim to raise awareness amongst journalists on the free, fair and professional coverage of election campaigns by television stations and to elaborate measures to achieve this aim.

Target group: editors

€ 45 000

DG-II
DG-I Media Division

6. VOTERS AWARENESS RAISING AND PUBLIC DISCUSSIONS ON ELECTORAL MATTERS

 

DG-II

6.1 Several seminars in the regions to encourage participation of women (both as candidates and voters) (TV debates, including women who could serve as role-models) and raise voters awareness, including their rights.

€ 40 000

DG-II

6.2 Assessing obstacles to the efficient work of female members of parliament in the six Eastern Partnerships Facility countries. This will be done by carrying out research, discuss the findings, and create solutions.

p.m. EaP Facility

 

6.3 Workshop training for the first year student for the academic year 2011-2012. The training will be conducted for every first year students of the accredited universities throughout Georgia. The workshop will provide the future voters with the knowledge on electoral system, Election Day procedures, voters’ rights, as well as voters’ registration. Duration of the workshop could be 1 to 2 hours.
Appropriate election related materials in the form of the booklet will be prepared for trainers and participants.

€ 12 000

DG-II
SPS in Tbilisi

6.4 National information campaign on Citizens’ participation/voters’ education

Several seminars would be organised to present the programmes of the different political parties, the role of the media and civil society in elections, the running of an electoral campaign, democratic organisation of political parties, youth and women participation, comparison with some EU electoral systems.
Special attention will be devoted to voters from minority groups.

€ 32 000

DG-II

6.5 Voter awareness training to be developed. The main goal will be to inform the local self-governmental officials about the violations which may occur during pre-electoral period. The participants will be informed on rights and the responsibilities of public officials concerning violations of the voters’ rights.

€ 45 000

DG-II

6.6 Exchange of information and collection of best practises of observation of elections by domestic NGOs in the six Eastern Partnerships Facility countries, development of a methodology for domestic observation as well as a training.

p.m.
EaP Facility

 

6.7 Essay writing competition for high school pupils on elections-related matters to be organised in co-operation with NGOs. The authors of best essays at the special events will be awarded.
Part of this programme will be implemented in the regions populated by minorities. Also will be paid attention on the family voting and exclusion of woman from the electoral process.)

€ 40 000

DG-II

6.8 Development of an election curriculum for grammar school and high school pupils in the six Eastern Partnerships Facility countries (long term).

p.m.
EaP Facility

 

6.9 Seminars for national observers for political parties to European norms in the elections observation practice.

€ 48 000

DG-II

6.10 Seminars after the three rounds of elections focusing on voters’ participations – analysis, lessons learned, conclusions, recommendations

€ 45 000

DG-II
SPS Tbilisi

Administrative costs

€ 30 000

 

Total budget needed

€ 642 000

 

Sub-total available from regular budget:

€ 200 000

 

Sub-total available Venice Commission budget:

€ 15 000

 

Total available:

€ 215 000

 

To be covered by extra-budgetary resources:

€ 427 000