GEO

What has changed in the election legislation

06 July, 2020

 

On July 2, the Parliament of Georgia adopted the amendments to the election legislation. We welcome this fact, as many election issues will be better regulated. Here is a brief overview of the major changes and the remaining problems.

Major changes

Election environment and misuse of administrative resources

  • Similar to public servants, employees of LEPLs and N(N)LEs, including teachers of public schools, will not be allowed to campaign during working hours;
  • During two months before the election, ministries and other government agencies will not be allowed to air promotional videos about their past projects;
  • During 8 hours before the election day and on election day until 8 pm it will be forbidden to broadcast pre-election advertisements and election programs of electoral subjects on TV and radio. During the same period, it will also be prohibited to make automated telephone calls and to send short text messages for election purposes;
  • It will be prohibited to place campaign material at a distance of 25 meters from the entrance of the polling station, as well as to physically obstruct the movement of voters by individuals within a radius of 25 meters from the polling station.

Political finance

  • The threshold for receiving public funding is reduced, and the formula for determining the amount of this funding is simplified:
    • Public funding will be provided to a political party that received 1% of the vote (instead of 3%) or more
      in the last parliamentary elections;
    • GEL 15 will be given for each of the first 50,000 votes received;
    • GEL 5 will be given for each vote received after 50,000.
  • Sanctions are introduced for illegal third-party donations.

Gender quotas

  • Before the 2028 parliamentary elections, in each of the four candidates on the political party's electoral list, there must be at least one candidate of the opposite sex. If a political party nominates at least one member of the opposite sex in each of the three, its public funding will increase by 30%;
  • At least one candidate in each of the three candidates on the electoral list, submitted by a political party in the elections to be held from 2028 to 2032, must be of the opposite sex;
  • In municipal elections to be held before 2028, one of each of the two candidates on the political party's list must be of the opposite sex.

Formation of election commissions

  • When forming a Precinct Election Commission (PEC), regulations governing conflicts of interest are introduced, in particular, a member of the District Election Commission (DEC) will not participate in the election procedure if he / she is a family member of a candidate for membership in the relevant PEC;
  • It will be forbidden to elect a person as a non-partisan member of the PEC who was appointed as a member of the election commission of any level in the last general elections by a political party.

Media regulations

  • In the pre-election period, broadcasters will be able to change the prices of paid advertisements only once. Such a restriction on pricing policy could pose a significant problem for broadcasters;
  • It is prohibited for one electoral subject to place such an advertisement within the time of its own advertising time, which serves the campaign purposes of another electoral subject;
  • It is prohibited for a broadcaster to give more than the time paid for the placement of advertisements to a customer, as well as placing free advertisements for the election subject beyond the time specified by the legislation;
  • Political parties that exceed the 1% threshold in the 2020 parliamentary elections will get free advertising time. from 2024, this threshold will increase to 3%;
  • Public opinion polls commissioned by a broadcaster should meet the strict criteria only if the broadcaster intends to allocate free advertising time for the election subject based on these polls..

Election disputes

  • The deadlines for drawing up protocols on violations in election commissions and the National Communications Commission are reduced;
  • The deadlines for reviewing disputes in election commissions related to the misuse of administrative resources are reduced from 30 days to 10 days.

The remaining problems

Despite many positive changes, some major problems remain in the electoral legislation, including:

  • The vicious rule of forming election commissions, which increases the influence of political parties on the activities of commissions;
  • Terms and insufficient regulation of selection procedures for non-partisan members of election commissions;
  • Insufficient regulation of election campaigning through social networks;
  • Certain shortcomings in election disputes and appeals proceedings.
elections