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  Georgia 2012: IDEE Election Observer Mission             


    The government of the Republic of Georgia announced in early August 2012 that parliamentary elections (required for sometime in October 2012) would be held on October 1. Georgia's elections had particular significance. For the first time in post-Soviet Georgia, a significant and serious opposition coalition offered the possibility of a peaceful transfer of power through the ballot box. Since the 2003 Rose Revolution, the United National Movement (UNM), led by President Mikheil Saakashvili, had dominated Georgian politics. Questionable election results in 2008 gave the UNM a "contstitutional majority" of more than three-fourths of the seats in parliament, with only a nominal opposition. The UNM's control of  parliament and Mikheil Saakashvili's firm grip on the presidency had resulted in widespread abuse of power without any checks or balances in such areas as media, rule of law, and security. The continued dominance of the UNM portended a further erosion of democracy.

           Despite a high degree of state intimidation of the citizenry and numerous restrictions on Georgia Dream, the opposition coalition led by Bidzina Ivanishvili, the opposition undertook a spirited campaign and won the October 1 elections in such overwhelming fashion (officially 55 to 40 percent) that President Saakashvili quickly conceded defeat. The large scale of the victory indicates that Georgia Dream had a much larger base than Western observers, who mostly had predicted an easy triumph for Saakashvili's party, thought. The prison abuse scandal (see section of news articles below) outraged citizens and further strengthened sentiment against Saakashvili. Although there were attempts at fraud (even massive fraud), domestic and international observers and independent  and opposition party election commission members, helped protect the basic integrity of the vote. While an accurate count will probably not be achieved, the 55-40 percent advantage stated by the Central Election Commission was probably low, indicated by Georgia Dream's easy victories in 7 majoritarian seats requiring a run-off due to fraud. The victory of Georgia Dream and the rare — for the post-Soviet region — peaceful transfer of power following democratic elections gives democracy in that country greater depth.

            The Institute for Democracy in Eastern Europe (IDEE) has supported Georgia's democratic forces since 1989. In 2007, it began a web page devoted to following events and providing analysis of the Georgian political scene (see Crisis of Democracy, Crisis of State, and Crisis of Democracy Unabated). For these elections, it organized several pre-election and long-term observer missions and a short-term election observer mission of 80 persons from 11 countries of Eastern Europe and the U.S (see the observer mission's preliminary results). This special elections page offers links to information, analysis and reports on the general situation, in Georgia, the human rights situation, and the run-up to the elections. Other resources are listed below.
Reports of IDEE Mission Election Observers

Initial Report of Centers for Pluralism Network/IDEE Observer Mission in Georgia (October 2012)
          Pre-Election Monitoring Report of the Centers for Pluralism Network Delegation (August 15, 2012)
International Observers Evaluate Georgian Elections (Georgian Journal, Oct. 10)
Interview with Smaranda Enache: The Elections and International Observers (Georgia Journal, Oct. 8)
Republican Party Leader Praises Azeri Democratic Opposition's Monitors (Oct. 3)
Report from Georgia by Vladimir Orasky (Tidningen Kulturen, Oct. 12) (Swedish)
Belarusan Observers Report Election Fraud (Viasna News, Oct. 11, 2012) (Belarusan)
Ballots Instead of Guns by Mariusz Pilis (Uwazm Rze, Oct. 7, 2012) (Polish)
Photo Reportage of Election Violations in Sagarejo Village by Michal Veselsky (Oct. 6, 2012)
Final Evaluation of Pre-Election Environment (Georgia Yong Lawyers' Association, Sept. 30, 2012)
2nd Interim Pre-Election Monitoring Report of the Georgia Young Lawyers' Association (Sept. 24, 2012)
Special World Press Freedom Committee Report on News Media in Georgia (Sept. 11, 2012 (PDF Version)
Long-term Observer Assessment Report by Belarusan Civil Society Activists (August 15-25, 2012)
Special Report on Georgia: Pre-Election Assessment by Daniel Korte, MP (August 2-9, 2012)



Election Resources: Recommended Documents and Web Pages

News Sites
Civil.ge: daily news online (link)
Elections Portal (a joint web site of GYLA, ISFED, and TI)
Georgia Young Lawyers' Association (link)
Interpress News: Georgia Election Coverage

NGO Sites
Article 42
Georgia Young Lawyers Association:
    Legal Analysis Of Cases of Criminal and Administrative Offences with Alleged Political Motive
    Freedom of Expression in Georgia
    Criminal and Administrative Offenses with Alleged Political Motive

International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy
    Pre-Election Monitoring of the 2012 Parliamentary Elections: Third Interim Report
It Affects You Campaign

    Petition on Elections
    Challenging the Decision to Seize Satellite Dishes
Transparency International: Georgia
    Monitoring the Use of Administrative Resources for Election Campaign
US State Department
2011 Human Rights Report: Georgia Country Report

Election News and Articles
Justice or Revenge (Economist, Nov. 22)
Political Prisoners Released After Parliament Commission (InterNews, Nov. 21)
Illegal Wiretapping Practices Descibed (Transition International Blog, Nov. 20)
U.S. Asks Georgian Government to Stop Arrests (New York Times, Nov.  19)
U.S. to Support Georgian Democracy: Assistant Secretary Gordon (Info9, Nov. 16)
Chief Prosecutor Details Ministry's Widespread Cyber Surveillance; Arrests Made (Trend, Nov. 16)
Former Interior Minister Akhalia, Two Commanders Detained (RFE/RL, Nov. 7)
Government to Make Cuts in President's Costly Habits (D&F Watch, Nov. 5)
Obama Congratulates New Government (Civil.Ge, Oct. 29)
Ivanishvili Confirmed As Prime Minister (BBC, Oct. 26)
New Government to Release Half Its Prisoners in Amnesty (D&F Watch, Oct. 23)
"Committed Democrat Takes High Post" (Caucasus Elections Watch, Oct. 23, 2012)
After Elections, Local Officials Leave Town (RFE/RL, Oct. 23, 2012)
Georgian Hopes and Dreams for U.S. Election by Vladimer Papava (Open Democracy.Net, Oct. 23, 2012)
West is Wrong Both About Saakashvili and Ivanishvili by Tedo Japaridze (D&F Watch, October 22, 2012)
Interview with Fady Asly: Business in Old and New Regimes (Oct. 22, 2012)
Georgia's Media Landscape Shifts After Historric Election by Robert Coalson (RFE/RL, Oct. 17, 2012)
Ivanishvili's Citizenship Restored (Bloomberg, Oct. 16); President Presents Him as Prime Minister (IPN, Oct. 17)
Results Annulled in Seven Districts; 3 Seats Gained by GD in Repeat Elections  (Civil.ge, Oct. 12, Oct. 15)
Turning the Dream of Peace Into Reality? by Rachel Clogg (Open Democracy.Net, Oct. 12)
Public Finally Allowed Into Prisons (D&W Watch, Oct. 12)
Father-in-law of future Interior Minister released from prison (Georgia Times, Oct. 10)
State Deparment's Melia: More Than Elections Needed (Oct. 10)
Ivanishvili Meets With the President: Their Statements Afterward (Civil.ge, Oct. 9)
The New Government: A Change in Style and Substance: Interview with Lincoln Mitchell (RFE/RL, Oct. 9)
The Parliament Breakdown of Seats by Official Results (Civil.ge, Oct. 8)
Georgia Dream and Ivanishvili Announce New Cabinet (Wall Street Journal, Oct. 8)
New Government Takes Shape (D&F Watch, Oct. 8)
"Over to You, Bidzina" (Economist, Oct. 6)
"Georgian Democracy on the March" by Job C. Henning and Nino Japaridze (New York Times, Oct. 4)
Georgia Dream Charges Fraud; Claims More Seats (Civic.ge, Oct. 4)
"Ivanishvili Promises to Defend Democracy" (Financial Times, Oct. 3)
"There are No Political Ultimatums": Ivanishvili (Civil.ge, Oct. 3, 2012)
In Quotes: International Reactions to Georgia's Elections (Civil.ge, Oct. 3, 2012)
Georgia Has a Democratic Counterrevolution by Thomas de Waal (Bloomberg, Oct. 2)
Ivanishvili Is Not "Putin's Man" in Georgia by Mark Adomanis (Forbes, Oct. 2, 2012)
European Liberal Democrats Congratulate Republicans and Free Democrats on Victory (ELDR, Oct. 2, 2012)
Civil.ge: Full Election Coverage (Oct. 2, 2012)
Saakashvili Concedes Election:  (Council on Foreign Relations, Oct. 2)
 Tens of Thousands Turn Out for Opposition Rallies (RFE/RL, Sept. 29, 2012)
Tbilisi Long Ago Turned Against Rulers (The Washington Post, Sept. 29, 2012)
Better Off Than in the Post, Georgians Ask at What Cost (New York Times, Sept. 29, 2012)
Polls Show Dramatic Shift (Citizens for Democracy in Georgia, September 29, 2012)
Crucial Parliamentary Vote Nears: Corey Flintoff reporting for National Public Radio (Sept. 28, 2012)
Students to Join Georgia Dream Rally (IPN, Sept. 28, 2012)
Patriarch of Georgia Supports Students in Their Reaction to Prison Abuse Scandal (IPN, Sept. 27, 2012)
5 Things to Know About the Parliamentary Elections by Cory Welt (Center for American Progress, Sept. 27, 2012)
Scandal and Change in Georgia by Michael Cecire (National Interest, Sept. 27, 2012)
Ignore Georgian Elections At Your Own Risk (Bloomburg News, Sept. 27, 2012)
International Federation of Journalists Calls for Press Freedom Guarantees in Georgia (IPJ, Sept. 26, 2012)
OSCE Parliamentary Assembly Expresses Conceerns over GD Arrests (Civil.ge, Sept. 25, 2012)
The Prison Rape Scandal and Danger of a Morality-Based Foreign Policy by Mark Adomanis (Forbes, Sept. 25, 2012)
Georgia's Prison Rape Scandal and What It Says About the Rose Revolution by Charles H. Fairbanks, Jr. (The Atlantic, Sept. 24, 2012)
Georgia Dream: 25 Activists in Pre-trial Detention (Citizens for Democracy, Sept. 22, 2012)
Prisoner Abuse Scandal: A Ticking Time Bomb (D&F Watch, Sept. 21, 2012)
Nothing Less than Zero Tolerance in Election Fraud is Acceptable (Caucasus Elections Watch, Sept. 18, 2012)
"A Tale of Two Reports": ODIHR and Transparency International (Caucasus Elections Watch, Sept. 18, 2012)
Prison Abuse Scandal
Prosecutor Asked to Open Investigation of Torture at New Prison (GYLA, Sept. 27, 2012)
Can Prison Abuse Scandal Produce a Protest Vote (Eurasianet, Sept. 24, 2012)
Whistle Blower Claims Prison Victims Targeted as Saakashvili's Enemies (RFE/RL, Sept. 20, 2012)
International Reaction to Prison Abuse Scandal --- In Quotes (Civil.ge, Sept. 20, 2012)
A Game of Georgian Chicken by Lincoln Mitchell (Huffington Post, Sept. 20, 2012)
Georgia's Cyber Politics Escalates by David Ignatius (Washington Post, Sept. 19, 2012)
Ahead of Georgia Vote, Prison Tapes Spark Fury (Wall Street Journal, Sept. 19, 2012)
Unrest Follows Broadcast of Video Showing Prison Abuse in Georgia (New York Times, Sept. 19, 2012)
Prison Abuse Videos Spark Public Outrage (D&F Watch, Sept. 19, 2012)
Other News
Billionaire Challenges Georgia's Leader (The Washinigton Post, Sept. 18, 2012)
EU Ambassador Urges Both Sides to Trust Observers (D&F Watch, Sept. 17, 2012)
NGOs Plead for Extention of Must Carry Broadcast Coverage (Citizens for Democracy in Georgia, Sept. 13, 2012)
U.S. Inter-Agency Mission Sends Message to Georgia on Elections (Civil.ge, Sept. 12, 2012)
"A Crucial Election in Georgia" by Thomas de Waal (Carnegie Endowment, Sept. 11, 2012)
"Tbilisi Pols Look to Washington to Influence Election Outcome" (Eurasianet, Sept. 6, 2012)
ISFED Monitoring Report Cites Increased Violations (D&F Watch, Sept. 5, 2012)
Transparency International and Policy Institutes Lauch Information Site on Party Programs (Sept. 5, 2012)
A New Means of Intimidation: Cell Phones in the Voting Booth (Sept. 5, 2012)
Transparency International and Policy Institutes Lauch Project to Inform Electorate of Party Programs (Sept. 5, 2012)
Georgia Opposition Hit by Yet Another Fine (Sept. 3, 2012)
Georgian Civil Society Coalition Calls for Electoral Law Changes to Protect Liberty (ERCAS, August 28, 2012)
"The Billionaire Who Would Rule Russia: An Interview" (Atlantic, August 28, 2012)
Georgian Young Lawyers' Assoc.: Fining of Ivanishvili and Kaladze Unlawful (GYLA, August 17, 2012)
NGOS Say Enforcement of Pre-Election Activities is Unbalanced (Messenger, August 14, 2012)
Ivanishvili Fined Again (Civil.Ge, August 13, 2012)


2008 Elections
OSCE/ODIHR Election Observation Mission (Interim Report / Final Report): Extraordinary Presidential Election on 5 January 2008
National Democratic Institute: NDI 2008 Election Observation Delegation to Georgia  (Final Statement)
Images of War: A Polish Journalist's Photographs from The Russian Invasion of Georgia (Gori).



 

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