Press Release

Council of Europe Office in Georgia

26, Kakabadzeebi Brothers street, 0108 Tbilisi, Georgia
Tel.: +995 32 291 38 70 / 71 / 72 / 73
Fax: +995 32 291 38 74
E-mail: informtbilisi@coe.int
www.coe.ge

 
   
19.12.11

Georgia - proposed amendments to electoral legislation - joint Venice Commission–OSCE/ODIHR opinions

Strasbourg, 19.12.2011 – The Venice Commission of the Council of Europe at its last plenary session (Venice, 16-17 December 2011) adopted two opinions concerning Georgia, namely on:
  • a draft new Election Code (on 16 December 2011) and
  • draft amendments and additions to the Law on Political Unions of Citizens (on 17 December 2011).

The Commission held an exchange of views with representatives of Georgian national authorities, i.e. First Vice-Speaker of the Georgian Parliament Mr M. Machavariani, who earlier this year requested the two opinions on the compliance of the above-mentioned draft legislation with international standards and best practices; Mr A. Minashvili (MP) and Mr O. Kakhidze (Ministry of Justice).   

Conclusions of the Commission and OSCE/ODIHR:

As for the draft new Election Code, it is conducive to the conduct of democratic elections. Nevertheless, several issues are of concern, the most important one being the notable inequality in the size of electoral districts (from some 6.000 to some 160.000 voters). The Georgian authorities informed of their intention to engage in reform of the administrative system, which would lead to changes in the size of districts. The Venice Commission and the OSCE/ODIHR strongly recommend such redistricting. 

The other issues of concern inter alia are as follows:  

  • lack of effective mechanisms to facilitate the participation of women in elections;
  • remaining shortcomings in the regulation of political party and campaign finances;
  • restrictions of the right to stand for election, including overly long residency requirements and “health tests” for candidates and 
  • shortcomings in electoral complaints and appeals procedures.

Concerning the draft Law on amendments and additions to the Organic Law on Political Unions of Citizens, many international standards in the field of political finance and in particular many GRECO recommendations, have been successfully addressed, with a view to establishing a more uniform and transparent legal framework. In particular, the following positive points should be underlined: 

- the ban of corporate donations (donations by legal persons);

- the introduction of a requirement for bank wire transfers of donations; and

- the inclusion of the Control Chamber (Audit Office) as a body controlling the reports of the parties. 

Nevertheless, a few further improvements are recommended. The key recommendations concern corporate donations to campaign funds, and the separation of powers between the Chamber of Control and the Central Electoral Commission. 

Apart from improving the legal framework itself, the Commission and OSCE/ODHIR stressed the importance of a full and effective implementation of the laws which is necessary in order to ensure conduct of elections in line with international standards. In this respect, relevant public authorities should be fully informed of their obligations under the Code and other elections-related laws. In addition, enhanced enforcement of election-related laws by all levels of the election administration, the Ministry of Interior, the General Prosecutor, and the courts is also required. Finally, effective implementation of these forthcoming improved legal provisions should be conducted in line with the principle of legal certainty, above all in view of the 2012 parliamentary elections. 

The final texts of the two adopted opinions are public and will be available on the site of the Commission www.venice.coe.int on 20 December 2011. 

Press contacts:

Tatyana Mychelova, external relations officer, Venice Commission

Office +33 388 41 3868, tatiana.mychelova@coe.int

For more information see: www.coe.int  / www.coe.ge

 
A political organisation set up in 1949, the Council of Europe works to promote democracy and human rights continent-wide. It also develops common responses to social, cultural and legal challenges in its 47 member states.



Council of Europe Office in Georgia