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Programme to support Georgia in view of the 2012 (parliamentary), 2013 (presidential) and 2014 (local) elections Progress report

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DG II/Inf(2012)02 4 June 2012

Programme to support Georgia in view of the 2012 (parliamentary), 2013 (presidential) and 2014 (local) elections
Progress report

Document prepared by Directorate General II

  1. Introduction

On 11 January 2012, at its 1130th session, the Committee of Ministers approved “The Council of Europe Programme to support Georgia in view of the 2012 (parliamentary), 2013 (presidential) and 2014 (local) elections”.

The implementation of the Programme for the Council of Europe’s assistance (CoE) in the elections in Georgia started in March 2012 and was carried out in close co-operation with the Central Election Commission (CEC), different authorities in Georgia at various levels and with important input from several NGOs.
The CoE’s electoral assistance programme aims to assist Georgia in addressing several elements of the electoral framework, as identified by international observers, including those noted during the most recent local elections of May 2010 by the OSCE/ODIHR and the CoE’s Congress of Local and Regional Authorities.
The CoE’s action in the field is co-ordinated by the Office in Tbilisi which co-operates with the international community representatives present in Tbilisi to secure proper synergies. The programme has been designed in such a way as to avoid any kind of overlap with other partners’ plans and national initiatives.
In order to avoid any duplication of 2011 activities, broad consultations were carried out with other international organisations, actors and NGOs also to be active during pre-electoral period in 2012.
At the end of January 2012 a visit to Georgia was conducted by the Secretariat in order to discuss the implementation of the recently adopted programme with the relevant authorities including the CEC. The relevant Georgian authorities confirmed their request for support in capacity building of the CEC, notably regarding the new electoral legislation, the training of domestic observers from political parties for voters’ awareness raising, especially first-time voters, women and voters from ethnic minorities, for the observation of the work and capacity building of the Voters List Verification Commission (VLVC) and in the use of administrative resources. The training of domestic observers and voter’s awareness raising activities are being designed to be complementary to the elections component of the EaP facility.
In general, co-operation with the Georgian authorities in the implementation of the programme has been constructive and fruitful.
In a letter of 5 April 2012 addressed to Jean-Claude Mignon, President of PACE, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Georgia, Mr Grigol Vashadze, invited the Parliamentary Assembly to observe the forthcoming Parliamentary elections in Georgia due to take place in October 2012.  The Bureau of the Assembly decided to constitute an ad hoc Committee  composed of 30 members (in accordance with the D’Hondt system) and to authorise a pre-electoral mission approximately one month ahead of the elections, composed of five members (one from each group) who are also members of the ad hoc committee.
2. Background
In December 2011 the Venice Commission noted that neither the existing electoral code nor the draft of the new electoral code puts any obligation on the CEC to announce the total number of voters before Election Day even though it is required to indicate if the final participation figures are in line with the number of voters on the list.
The Venice Commission recommended that voter’s lists be made public and not merely made available for inspection on the premises of the district electoral commission.
On 15 November 2011, President Saakashvili signed a decree setting up a state funded 21-member commission to verify the accuracy of the voters’ list ahead of the parliamentary elections in the autumn of 2012. This commission is part of an agreement on the reform of the electoral system, which was signed by the ruling party and several opposition parties in the summer of 2011. Fourteen members of the commission are representatives of political parties, seven of which come from the ruling United National Movement and seven from other parties1. The seven remaining members of the commission are representatives of non-governmental organisations (NGOs), among which the election observer group New Generation-New Initiative (nGnI). Three other NGOs – namely the International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED), the Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association (GYLA) and Transparency International Georgia – are not members of the VLVC but they are observing its work.
The Venice Commission added that the setting up of a state-funded commission in charge of the verification of the voters list ahead of the 2012 parliamentary elections was a positive development in terms of involving political parties and civil society in the electoral process. It also stressed that the actual impact of this commission needs to be assessed subsequently.
The VLVC was established in order to address inaccuracies in the voters’ list as noted in the reports of international observers in previous elections. Given the significance of an accurate voters list, the institutional inexperience of the commission and the importance of ensuring public trust in the way the voters’ list is compiled and verified, there was an urgent and evident need for further assistance to the work of the VLVC, both by overseeing its recruitment and training processes and monitoring the way the door-to-door campaign is carried out. The CoE programme addresses these issues under activities 3.1 + 3.32. The Monitoring is carried out in cooperation with ISFED and aims: (a) to build the capacity of the VLVC by monitoring the recruitment and training processes of its members in the 73 districts concerned, and (b) to monitor the door-to-door campaign, approximately 10 000 interviews/visits of the VLVC throughout Georgia (by which the verification of around 30 000 voters is observed).
Misuse of administrative resources has always been one of the concerns raised by local and international observers during elections in Georgia. The Venice Commission noted that “This problem is due in part to the lack of clarity and specificity in the legislation, as reproduced in the draft [of the new electoral] code”. Criticism, in particular by international observers, has focused largely on the lack of an even “playing field” and, in this context, the misuse of administrative resources. The recent changes to the Constitution and Electoral Code, which include new provisions to prevent the misuse of administrative resources, have created a new election environment in the country. For these reasons the CoE, the International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED) and the CEC are implementing a training and information campaign for local self-government officials on election procedures, the recent changes of the election code and other issues of importance for free and fair elections.
In order to ensure a transparent and fair environment for the 2012 parliamentary elections, the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) has been established. The IATF mandate is to foster co-ordination among government agencies, promote dialogue between the government and the stakeholders in the electoral process through co-operation with political parties, domestic non-governmental and international organisations, as well as with election observers.

The last parliamentary and local elections showed that participation of young people and first time voters in elections is lower than those of other age groups. The following two reasons were identified: (1) lack of trust toward state institutions and (2) lack of civic awareness. High school students graduate with limited understanding of the functions of state institutions, the mechanisms of civic participation and involvement in political life, be it at national or local level. High school curricula do not sufficiently address these issues, and on reaching voting age, young students have a limited awareness of the significance of democratic rules and procedures in general and of the role and importance of elections in particular. This may influence their ability to make informed decisions. Awareness raising is needed even more among ethnic minorities. The unequal knowledge of the state language as well as the level of involvement of these regions in political and public life are additional elements that young people have to deal with to become better involved in the political life of the country.

Activities 6.3 and 6.7 are implemented in partnership with the Caucasus Institute for Peace Democracy and Development with the goal to motivate young future voters and some first time voters to comprehend the importance of free and fair elections for their lives and the well-being of their communities.
3. Overview of the implementation
Legislative Framework and its implementation
Voter’s lists

Activities 3.1 and 3.3
The project activities started with a preparation phase in March with the development of a methodology for the monitoring and reporting on the work of the VLVC followed by five two-day trainings of observers based on specific training manuals.
The observers will monitor the recruitment and training process of the VLVC staff in all electoral 73 districts, the door-to-door campaign with the verification of around 30 000, and the Voters’ lists on Election Day.
The reports drafted by ISFED are validated by the CoE then transmitted to the CEC and VLVC.
Training of the electoral administration

Activity 4.2
A one day meeting was organised between members of the Central Election Commission of Georgia and CoE experts in order to discuss the subject of three books prepared by the CEC Training Centre and civil society which were the Handbook for polling stations officers, the Handbook for observer organisations and the Handbook for Media. During intensive discussion and exchange of views several suggestions were made which will be taken into consideration by the CEC.
Voters’ awareness raising and public discussions on electoral matters

Activity 6.3
This activity aims at increasing awareness of the importance of participation in elections in a democratic system amongst first time voters.
Ten workshops with approximately 50 participants in each are being conducted in Tbilisi (2 universities) and in eight universities/colleges in the following regions of Georgia: Kakheti (Telavi), Kvemo Kartli (Marneuli), Samtskhe-Javakheti (Akhaltsikhe, Akhalkalaki), Shida Kartli (Gori), Imereti (Kutaisi), Samegrelo (Zugdidi), Adjara (Batumi).

It should be pointed out that the universities in Akhalkalaki and Marneuli have many ethnic minority students (Armenians, Azeris).

  1. Teaching materials and publications have been developed by the experts for use in the workshop and presentations.

  2. 500 copies will be distributed.

'Local self-government officials' awareness training'

Activity 6.5
This activity is implemented in cooperation with ISFED and the CEC.3
The main goal is to inform local self-government officials on the concrete consequences of the newly adopted amendments to the electoral code concerning the use of public fund.
The training methodology and material are designed around both previous experience from similar projects and the new election environment created by the recent amendments to the electoral code.
A 30-second short video clip was prepared to help local civil servants to understand the procedures and requirements set out by the Electoral Code which will be broadcasted on national television and used as training material for local self-government officials.
Training of Trainers (ToT) was conducted for the 73 ISFED electoral district coordinators and five regional coordinators by two trainers, one from ISFED and one from CEC. All 73 DCs are trained in their own districts for the training of Local Self-Government Officials.

One-day training courses are being organised in every district, each for 17 local civil servants, which gives an estimated total of 1240 trained officials.

Essay writing competition for high school pupils

Activity 6.7
It targets students of the final two grades (11th and 12th years) in Georgian high schools. Some of them will reach the voting age by the next parliamentary elections, other in time for the presidential and local elections (in 2013 and 2014 respectively). All students in Georgian schools can participate in the competition, but special efforts are made to motivate students studying in minority-language schools.
The project aim is to encourage and promote discussions among high school students over the role of elections as an important tool of democracy.
The title for the essay competition is “What do Elections Mean for Me?”. The competition is publicised through posters and written information disseminated across all regions of Georgia as well as through the internet and social media.
In order to attract students from ethnic minorities, materials are prepared in 5 languages in addition to Georgian (Abkhazian, Armenian, Azeri, Ossetian and Russian) and participants will be able to submit their applications and essays in their native language.
The authors of the 23 winning essays will be invited to an awarding ceremony and to participate in a one week summer school on the “Importance of Elections and Civic Participation”.



Budget estimate

Responsibility for implementation (CoE)


1. PACE and CONGRESS Observation Missions


(DG-II / VC)

2.1 Venice Commission’s expertise is provided for the improvement of the electoral code.

p.m. Budget of the Enlarged Agreement

Venice Commission (VC)

2.2 Following the revision of the electoral code, 3 conferences, one after each election cycle, on the general legal and democratic framework for elections for political parties’ leaders, members of the electoral commissions, media and NGOs representatives to discuss the implementation of electoral and related legislation.

€ 60 000


SPS in Tbilisi

One conference planned end 2012, early 2013

2.3 Translation into Georgian (when necessary), printing, distribution and presentation at specialised session of relevant material, notably:

  • the CEC handbook for polling stations officers, (to be produced in cooperation with the CEC Training Centre and civil society);

  • publication/printing of the Code of good practice of the Venice Commission opinion(s)-(N.B. this already exists in Georgian);

  • The media and elections handbook (to be produced in cooperation with the CEC Training Centre): this is a practical guide for journalists on the coverage of election campaigns which will allow them to apply professional standards on fairness, balance and impartiality in their daily work

  • Handbook for election observers and promotional material on the CEC (to be produced in cooperation with the CEC Training Centre);

Printing and distribution of approximately 20,000 copies to be done.

p.m. EaP Facility

DG-II/ Tbilisi Office



3.1 Expertise is provided to the Special Commission established on the agreement between political parties, in order to improve voters list, inter alia, through the conduct of door to door campaign.

Budget for activities 3.1 + 3.3


(€ 118,020 VC NL + €11,790 OB)

DG-II + CoE Office Tbilisi + ISFED

Monitoring of the door-to-door campaign underway.

3.2 An educational information campaign aimed at raising general awareness on voters’ lists.

3.3 Conduct a voters’ lists audit at a suitable time in all election districts of the country with the aim of assessing the overall accuracy of the preliminary voters’ lists.

Budget for activities 3.1 + 3.3


(€ 118,020 VC NL + €11,790 OB)

DG-II + CoE Office Tbilisi + ISFED



4.1 Capacity building of the CEC and of the electoral administration at all levels, notably to implement the identified changes to the Election Law and other legislation relevant to the electoral process (activities under this item will be co-ordinated with UNDP).

30 000 (of which

€ 15 000 are available from Venice Commission budget)

Venice Commission


4.2 Training on the amendments to the electoral law and related legislation for political parties and media.

30 000


One-day meeting organised between CEC members and CoE experts.

4.3 Capacity-building seminar with the CEC of Georgia and the EMBs of the six Eastern Partnerships Facility countries.

p.m. EaP Facility

Venice Commission

Planned spring 2013


5.1 Three Conferences “Making democracy work – the role of freedom of the press in free and fair elections”, after each round of elections. The target group will be newspaper editors, directors of TV chains and radio stations. This conference would be based on the interim report of the media monitoring process (point 4.1 above).

45 000

DG-I Media Division

Planned 2013

5.2 Capacity-building for editors on responsible journalism and editorial choice

Organisation of study visits to other countries under elections in order to promote freedom of speech, balanced and factual reporting, including when covering activities of the authorities.

Special attention will be paid to the Public Service Broadcaster.

The study visits aim to raise awareness amongst journalists on the free, fair and professional coverage of election campaigns by television stations and to elaborate measures to achieve this aim.

Target group: editors

45 000


DG-I Media Division

Planned 2013



6.1 Several seminars in the regions to encourage participation of women (both as candidates and voters) (TV debates, including women who could serve as role-models) and raise voters awareness, including their rights.

40 000


Planned end 2012 beginning 2013

6.2 Assessing obstacles to the efficient work of female members of parliament in the six Eastern Partnerships Facility countries. This will be done by carrying out research, discuss the findings, and create solutions.

p.m. EaP Facility

Meeting held in Tbilisi in February 2012. Follow-up 2013

6.3 Workshop training for the first year student for the academic year 2011-2012. The training will be conducted for every first year students of the accredited universities throughout Georgia. The workshop will provide the future voters with the knowledge on electoral system, Election Day procedures, voters’ rights, as well as voters’ registration. Duration of the workshop could be 1 to 2 hours.

Appropriate election related materials in the form of the booklet will be prepared for trainers and participants.

4,780 (OB)

8,200 (Germany VC)


CoE Office in Tbilisi


Underway. Workshops started May 2012

6.4 National information campaign on Citizens’ participation/voters’ education
Several seminars would be organised to present the programmes of the different political parties, the role of the media and civil society in elections, the running of an electoral campaign, democratic organisation of political parties, youth and women participation, comparison with some EU electoral systems.

Special attention will be devoted to voters from minority groups.

32 000



6.5 Voter awareness training to be developed. The main goal will be to inform the local self-governmental officials about the violations which may occur during pre-electoral period. The participants will be informed on rights and the responsibilities of public officials concerning violations of the voters’ rights.


(€ 76,330 VC NL + € 8,100 OB)

DG-II + CoE Office Tbilisi + ISFED and CEC

The implementation of the project is in progress. The delivery of information to inform the local self-government officials has started.

6.6 Exchange of information and collection of best practises of observation of elections by domestic NGOs in the six Eastern Partnerships Facility countries, development of a methodology for domestic observation as well as a training.


EaP Facility

Draft handbook to be reviewed at a meeting in autumn 2012

6.7 Essay writing competition for high school pupils on elections-related matters to be organised in co-operation with NGOs. The authors of best essays at the special events will be awarded.

Part of this programme will be implemented in the regions populated by minorities. Also will be paid attention on the family voting and exclusion of woman from the electoral process.)

31,500 (German VC)


CoE Office in Tbilisi


Project underway (essay writing competition has started)

6.8 Development of an election curriculum for grammar school and high school pupils in the six Eastern Partnerships Facility countries (long term).


EaP Facility


6.9 Seminars for national observers for political parties to European norms in the elections observation practice.

48 000



6.10 Seminars after the three rounds of elections focusing on voters’ participations – analysis, lessons learned, conclusions, recommendations

45 000


SPS Tbilisi


Administrative costs

30 000

Total budget

676 070

Spent 2012 ordinary budget

55 000

Available from ordinary budget for 2012

45 000

Available from ordinary budget for 2013

100 000

Sub-total available Venice Commission budget:

15 000

Voluntary contributions received

276 400


€ 224 400)

(Germany € 52 000)

Total available:

491 400

To be covered by extra-budgetary resources:

184 670

1 The Christian-Democratic Movement (CDM), New Rights, Industry Will Save Georgia, the National-Democratic Party, Georgia’s European Democrats, Democratic Party of Georgia and Christian-Democratic People’s Party.

2 Activities 3.1 + 3.3 are fully financed through a VC by the Netherlands.

3 It is fully financed through a VC by the Netherlands

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