We congratulate Parliament on the passage of the electoral reform package based on OSCE/ODIHR recommendations. For over a year, political parties, civil society, and government agencies have worked constructively on drafting legislation designed to further strengthen Georgia’s electoral process. The U.S. Embassy was pleased to support the inclusive election reform working group discussions conducted under the leadership of Speaker Talakvadze, including funding international experts who provided practical recommendations for addressing deficiencies highlighted in the OSCE/ODIHR and other observer reports.
The adopted legislation contains several significant amendments, including a prohibition on employees of Legal Entities of Public Law (LEPLs) from campaigning during work hours, updated campaign finance regulations, measures to increase women’s political participation, and strengthening third party financing regulations to provide greater transparency.
Some important gaps in the legislation remain, however. In our view, additional measures to address possible voter intimidation, ensure transparency in the selection of election commission members, strengthen the dispute resolution process, and provide opportunities for alternate campaigning methods due to COVID-19 limitations would have contributed to increasing public confidence in the electoral process this fall.
The legislation adopted today must now be implemented effectively to ensure the upcoming Parliamentary elections are conducted in a free, fair, and transparent manner that reflects the will of the Georgian people. As always, the U.S. Embassy stands ready to support Georgia’s continued democratic progress.