Organizations participating in “This Affects You Too” start the second stage of the campaign
Non-governmental and media organizations participating in “This Affects You” start the second stage of the campaign that envisages amendments to the Election Code, as well as rehabilitation of the media environment during election period. In this respect, on 7 May, the participants of the campaign submitted a package of legislative proposals to the Parliament of Georgia.
The legislative proposals address the following issues:
- Refining the vote count procedure on the day of the elections. Under the proposal, the number of actual voters participating in the elections should be documented in the summarizing records before the ballot boxes are opened in the precincts. This will prevent the precinct electoral commissions, after they have ascertained the elections outcomes at specific precincts, from switching the numbers of the electorate that showed up at the elections. The amendment will help prevent modifying the summarizing records in the event if the outcomes turn out unsuitable for the election administration. The mechanisms for summing up the election outcomes have also been made clearer.
- Ensuring transparency of the activities on behalf of the electoral administration – live broadcasting of the sessions of the Central Election Commission and district electoral commissions during the pre-election period as well as their live internet coverage is ensured.
- Regulating the use of administrative resources –pre-election restrictions are imposed on the use of administrative resources starting from 1 June of the election year; the range of persons not entitled to participate in the election campaign is increased; activities of the legal entities of public law, government officials, and heads of regional and local governments fall under the regulation; a ban is imposed on campaigning during events/presentations funded from state/local budget;more precise regulations on budget expenditure as well as clear restrictions on the use of budget resources are put in place; liabilities for local self-government bodies and district electoral commissions as well as transparency standards of their activities and sanctions for non-fulfillment of those standards are better defined.
- Ensuring equal media coverage for political parties during the election period – the definition for hidden advertising has been clarified; rules have been provided for placing social, commercial and free political advertisements, as well as rules for discussing and responding to the media monitoring results carried out by both Georgian and international organizations have become binding, and rules for holding pre-election debates and providing information on the elections have been set up.
- Defining the rights and responsibilities of the Georgian National Communications Commission in such fields as broadcasting transmission, copyright and allied rights – under the proposal, cable network operators are obliged to retransmit television signals of Georgian Public Broadcaster as well as community and satellite broadcasters. Additionally, broadcasters are required to sell their retransmission rights to cable network operators without establishing monopolistic prices or other conditions that could bring about unjustified disparity of forces in the broadcasting market.
On 13 April, 2013, non-governmental organizations engaged in the filed of elections and media representatives started a campaign under the name “This Affects You Too” aimed at improving election legislation and developing a better pre-election environment. Within the confines of the campaign, up to 170 non-governmental and media organizations as well as about 1500 individuals have signed the petition submitted to the Parliament on 17 February, 2012, together with a package of legislative proposals. Organizing members of the campaign have held information meetings in Tbilisi as well as 8 other Georgian cities updating the population on the restrictions imposed by the law on Political Unions of Citizens. The above proposals have been brought to the attention of the diplomatic corps accredited to Georgia, international organizations, and political parties as well. Negotiations with the Parliament of Georgia concerning the legislative proposals had been going on for a month. The law on Political Unions of Citizens was adopted by the Parliament on 31March in first hearing and 25 April in second hearing. The third hearing is due to be held next week. On 9 March, the campaign member organizations sent an official appeal to the President of Georgia, Parliament Chairman, and Foreign Minister requesting them to not delay with inviting an OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) long-term observer mission in order to ensure a qualified and impartial monitoring of the election environment not only in the two-month pre-election period but throughout the entire election year.