The International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED) said in its assessment report on November 10 that it has documented several alleged instances of political pressure and use of administrative resources ahead of the second round runoffs scheduled for November 12.
The local election watchdog said most violations took place in Ozurgeti Municipality, where the ruling party candidate, Beglar Sioridze, who garnered 43.35% of votes in the first round, is challenged by an independent candidate Konstantine Sharashenidze, who finished with 41.86% of votes.
ISFED focused on the case of Giorgi Rokva, a political activist in Ozurgeti, who, according to Konstantine Sharashenidze’s election headquarters, was subject to political pressure by the ruling party representatives for his campaigning in favor of Sharashenidze.
Rokva himself ran in the municipal elections in one of Ozurgeti’s majoritarian constituencies on behalf of the European Georgia, and garnered 35.6% of votes. “Reportedly, the pressure exerted on Rokva is linked to the fact that he had a high electoral support and that his supporters may have become potential voters of the opposition candidate during the second round runoff,” ISFED said.
ISFED also pointed out several alleged cases of pressure on voters and their bribing in Ozurgeti and Khashuri municipalities, primarily with the involvement of the ruling party activists and local public servants.
“ISFED calls on the local self-governing bodies, political parties and candidates to refrain from bribing voters or exerting pressure on them on the Election Day,” the organization said, also urging the Central Election Commission to ensure protection of voters’ personal data, as well as the free expression of their will.
Second round runoffs will be held in six municipalities, among them Kutaisi, Kazbegi, Khashuri, Borjomi, Ozurgeti and Martvili, on November 12.