Submitting an Alternative Proposal on Party Financing Rules to Parliament
TI Georgia, together with the Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association (GYLA), International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED), and “Freedom of Choice” Coalition go up against the legislative reality established in Georgia as a consequence of the amendments adopted in December 2011 and call the Parliament of Georgia to incorporate changes to the legislation. The call has been backed by up to 200 media outlets and nongovernmental organizations as well as around 400 individual signatures.
The present legislative proposal intends to provide a response to the extensive and unjustified restrictions imposed by the law and bring the entities subject to law under reasonable regulation in order to ensure a just and equal election environment. At the same time, the proposal aims at substituting the legislative drawbacks and ambiguities with comprehensible regulations and procedures. Basic requirements of the legislative proposal are as follows:
- Narrow the range of entities that can fall under the restrictions established for political parties. Notably, restrictions imposed for parties should extend to entities with express campaigning purposes who put out money to realize the above purposes or carry out illicit donations amounting to a total of 200,000 Gel a year;
- Abolish those norms that are blatantly violating the freedom of expression as well as other rights;
- Alleviate the injudicious sanctions imposed on political parties and other entities. Introduce threefold rather than tenfold fines on illicit donations. Set limits to the fines for non-fulfillment of the Control Chamber requirements within 500 Gel;
- Abolish the criminal liability requirement for voters and impose the liability solely and totally on the person giving bribes. Specifically, a person appealing to a voter to vote for or abstain from voting in support of a political entity and offering, promising or handing him a present exceeding the value of 100 Gel should incur penalty (fine), while the same offense involving large sums (over 5000 Gel) should be punishable by up to one year of imprisonment.
- Define limits, grounds and procedures for the Control Chamber activities to enforce restrictions on entities. At the same time, the Control Camber rules for imposing a ban on a party’s or other entities’ property should be spelled out in detail. At present, such rules simply do not exist, allowing the Control Chamber to exercise unrestricted authority. The role of the Court should be defined in this connection in order to prevent the property of an entity from being distressed without the relevant court decision thereupon.
- Set a limit on the expenditures of a campaigning entity throughout the election year. Annual total expenses should not exceed 0.2% of the overall GDP in Georgia for the previous year.
To ensure a just and equal election environment, we consider it important that a number of other provisions be also revised, including the regulations in the election code. However, our attention at present goes primarily to the above critical issues adjusting which will be the first step towards improving the election environment.