Republican Party of Georgia blames government for providing the Venice Commission draft joint opinion on the draft election code of Georgia incorrectly to the public.
As one of the leaders of the party Tina Khidasheli stated at the press conference held on December 5th the head of Legal Committee of Georgian Parliament Pavle Kublashvili made a statement two days ago where he stated that the government positions are approved and confirmed in the draft opinion of Venice Commission.
According to Tina Khidasheli, Republican Party states with full responsibility that the government representatives as well as national TV channels deceived public and Georgian population saw next propagandist material of government spread by TV.
“Thus, we would like to publish all the provisions which government talked about and which in fact are no way an approval and assessment of democratic steps,” – Khidasheli noted.
According to her, all principal issues which have been disputed by Republicans, other opposition parties and observatory organizations were considered to be problematic by Venice Commission as well and request to change them and conform to international standards.
Interpressnews disseminated comments of Republican Party on the provisions of Venice Commission draft opinion which were incorrectly covered by the National Movement and TV channels controlled by the government:
1. Amendments to Election Code fail to guarantee one of the main principles of electoral rights, equality of the vote.
2. The Draft Code does not provide explicit criteria to be used in forming the majoritarian districts, does not require equal number of voters and thus violates the principle of equality of voters.
3. Venice Commission states singlehandedly that the electoral system for both parliamentary and local self-government elections must be reviewed in order to ensure the equality of suffrage;
4. Venice Commission states that residency requirement requested by the legislation appear excessive. The doubt is raised regarding the fact that when the residency requirements are half diminished for Presidential and local government elections, why this did not touch Parliamentary elections.
5. Venice Commission states that despite that the guarantees of independence of members of election commission must be abided by in practice by the commission members. It requests that more mechanism must be worked out for independence ensuring independence and impartiality; and it criticizes government:
6. for the amendments which creates possibility for dismissing members for “disciplinary violations” which are defined too broadly and vaguely.
7. Venice Commission criticizes government regarding the elections lists as well and especially emphasizes on the fact that there is a possibility for an individual to vote without having an address in the ID card that makes impossible to identify him/her in the concrete district. This provision has particular significance nowadays when the problem is elevated in new ID cards.
8. Venice Commission recommends that voter lists be posted publicly and not merely made available for inspection in the premises of the DEC;
9. The Venice Commission recommends that the limitation of two years of registration for domestic observer organizations be reduced to a reasonable period to facilitate the accreditation of domestic observer organizations;
10. Venice Commission addresses government to adopt amendment in the Code to singlehandedly establish that all elections subjects and observer organizations have the possibility to access the copies of election documentation, including the protocols.
11. Venice Commission categorically requests the adoption of concrete and clear provisions on the prohibition of use of administrative resources, for instance on the equal access to state-funded buildings, means of communication and vehicles; it emphasizes that the use of administrative resources in Georgian elections have always been a significant problem from past elections and the Code provisions blur the line between the state and political parties.
12. Venice Commission also criticizes the government officials for maintaining the right to participate in the election campaign for government officials, especially in case of mayors and Governors;
13. Venice Commission criticizes the amendment which prohibits public organizations to participate in the political election campaign and considers that it violates their right to free speech and expression;
14. Venice Commission criticizes the provision according to which non-citizens residing in Georgia do not have right to participate in the election campaign; its states that rights of freedom of expression and association according to Articles 10 and 11 of the European Convention of Human Rights belong to all persons within the jurisdiction of a member State. Even if non-citizens (stateless and alien residents) do not have the right to vote they do have the right to freely express their opinion, associate and participate in political debates during elections campaigns. Such a clause limits fundamental rights of non-citizens residing in Georgia and conflicts with the basic human rights protected by the regional and global international conventions recognized by Council of Europe member states and OSCE states.
15. Venice Commission criticizes amendments as it does not prohibit the campaigning on the day of elections. Besides, it recalls the experience of the past elections as negative and remarks to government to prohibit all kinds of agitation and campaigning during 24 hours before the elections.
16. Venice Commission criticizes amendments as it does not establish clearly the equality of all electoral contestants during the election campaign and states that during the election campaign all electoral contestants should have equal means for media coverage and not only by special election programs but in all information programs; also equal access to the same commercial rate for electoral aids;
17. Venice Commission criticizes the 5% threshold for political parties to receive financing and requests its decrease;
18. Venice Commission criticizes the provision according to which the party is free from restrictions while transferring its resources to election fund during the financing of election campaign and requests that the transparency regarding the financing of the political party, including the legal entities of law.
19. The draft opinion never states that it welcomes the prohibition of financing of political parties by the legal entities of law. Venice Commission recommends “to provide the same contribution limit for natural persons as is applicable to “legal persons”.”
20. Venice Commission criticizes amendments as it envisages immediate transfer of the sums fundraised by the party to the budget. Commission states that this norm is not proportionate and restricts right of property and it requests to yield this matter to the court.
21. Venice Commission criticizes the amendments and states that voting for military and policemen has always been problematic in Georgia and government never envisaged the recommendations of Venice Commission. Thus, it asks to add more clarity to this issue in the legislation so that the free realization of election right does not become the ground for constant confrontation.
Any interested individual can see the draft joint opinion of Venice Commission on the website of Republican Party at www.republicans.ge.