08TBILISI726, GEORGIA PARLIAMENTARY ELECTION UPDATE MAY 1

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08TBILISI726 2008-05-01 14:42 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO3137
PP RUEHBW RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #0726/01 1221442
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 011442Z MAY 08
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9373
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 TBILISI 000726 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR EUR/CARC 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/01/2018 
TAGS: PREL PGOV PHUM KDEM GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA PARLIAMENTARY ELECTION UPDATE MAY 1 
 
REF: TBILISI 707 
 
Classified By: Ambassador John F. Tefft for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 
 
1. (C) Summary:  On April 30, the United National Movement's 
(UNM) pollster told the Ambassador that the UNM is polling 
around 57 percent among likely voters in the May 21 election. 
 This will likely result in another UNM constitutional 
majority.  He expects at least three other opposition parties 
to meet the 5 percent party list threshold.  Opposition 
leader Giorgi Targamadze briefed the Ambassador on his new 
party's platform on April 24.  ODIHR released their first 
Interim Report on the elections April 30.  The report said 
the legal framework for the elections is adequate, but must 
be fully implemented.  Saakashvili insider Giga Bokeria 
joined the government Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on 
elections (reftel) on April 29.  The Georgian Young Lawyer's 
Association (GYLA) released an interim report on the misuse 
of administrative resources on April 30.  Recently denied a 
political broadcasting license, Maestro TV (a cable TV 
company linked to the Joint Opposition) is simulcasting audio 
via radio to match their political TV shows.  On April 30, 
Joint Opposition leader Salome Zourabichvili criticized the 
international community for allegedly "not paying more 
attention to the election."  EU and ODIHR Ambassadors 
countered that the international community can, and is, 
paying close attention to both Georgia's election and ongoing 
tension with Russia.  End Summary. 
 
Pollster: UNM Expects to Win Majority 
------------------------------------- 
 
2. (C) On April 30, the Ambassador met with political 
consultants Jeremy Rosner and Sam Patten, of Greenberg 
Associates, the American political consulting company hired 
by the ruling National Movement party.  Rosner said the UNM 
will have new numbers on May 8, which will be the first 
results following Nino Burjanadze,s April 21 decision to not 
run.  Patten said their April 20 numbers show that the 
overall ballot position has been consistent for two months. 
According to this most recent ballot test: 
 
-- The UNM is at approximately 44 percent for both party list 
and majoritarian seats among the overall population, 
-- The United National Council of Opposition (UNC) has gone 
from highs in the 20,s to 12 percent now, 
-- Targamadze,s Christian-Democrats are at approximately 10 
percent, 
-- The Labor Party has remained at around 6 percent, 
-- The Republicans are right on the threshold to enter 
Parliament, or slightly less, than 5 percent. 
 
Rosner said after allocating undecided voters likely to vote, 
the polls indicate about 57 percent support for the UNM, 
which will likely equate to another constitutional majority 
in Parliament.  He added that their research shows jobs are 
people's foremost concern, and territorial integrity and 
social benefits alternate in second place.  According to 
Rosner, the UNC and other opposition have failed to 
articulate a message, which has resulted in sinking numbers. 
The pollster said the UNM's biggest challenge is to ensure 
their expected victory is accepted as politically legitimate, 
both by the Georgian people and the international community. 
(Comment:  Rosner accurately predicted the results of the 
January 5 presidential election.  End comment.) 
 
Christian-Democrats Looking to Future 
------------------------------------- 
 
3. (C) On April 24, the Ambassador met with Giorgi 
Targamadze, a former MP (from Aslan Abashidze's party) and 
Imedi TV anchor, the head of the new Christian-Democratic 
Movement (CDM) party.  Targamadze's platform includes 
concrete proposals that prioritize freedom of the media, 
reforming Parliament's Chamber of Control (thus strengthening 
the body's budgetary oversight), and restructuring the 
Ministry of Internal Affairs.  Targamadze stressed that his 
party is focused on trying to get into Parliament and capture 
a few majoritarian seats.  Once in Parliament, he hopes to 
build the party for the future, in the mold of existing 
Christian-Democratic parties in Europe. 
 
ODIHR: CEC's Plan Adequate, Must be Implemented 
--------------------------------------------- -- 
 
4. (U) On April 30, ODIHR released their first Interim Report 
on the elections.  The report said that the legal framework 
for the elections is conducive to democratic elections, but 
must be implemented accordingly.  The report notes ODIHR's 
concern that Georgia's Constitution and Unified Election Code 
were both amended as late as March, and without full 
 
TBILISI 00000726  002 OF 003 
 
 
consensus.  The report also criticizes the disparity in the 
size of the single-mandate majoritarian districts, which 
represent as few as 6,000 voters and as many as 150,000, 
saying this "undermines the equality of the vote." 
Intimidation problems observed in the January election are 
occurring again, but fewer, according to most NGOs.  The 
report notes the polarized political environment, and the 
opposition's "deep mistrust in the election administration,"

which represents a continuing challenge to the CEC.  On April 
29, ODIHR Head Ambassador Boris Frlec told an OSCE 
Ambassador's Working Group "there is still the hope that the 
elections will be better than those in January."  Other areas 
of concern the ODIHR report notes include: 
under-representation of opposition representatives  precinct 
election commission managerial positions, shortened deadlines 
for filing complaints, and fewer restrictions on political 
officials and use of administrative resources during 
campaigning.  (Note: ODIHR's first Interim Report can be 
found at: http://www.osce.org/odihr-elections/  End note.) 
 
IATF Explains Vouchers, Regional Contacts 
----------------------------------------- 
 
5. (U) Giga Bokeria, former MP and now Deputy Foreign 
Minister, joined the governmental Inter-Agency Task Force 
(IATF) on elections (reftel).  At a meeting on April 29, the 
IATF detailed two government social programs and distributed 
a list of regional contacts to act on the IATF's behalf.  The 
first voucher program was scheduled to end by March 31 and 
entailed 20 liters of free diesel to Georgia's farmers.  The 
second entails a contract-based collection of personal data 
for the Ministry of Health.  This information is used to 
enroll vulnerable families into a national insurance program. 
 GYLA praised the regional contacts initiative, but pointed 
out that they have witnessed diesel vouchers being 
distributed at UNM offices in Kakheti as late as April 11. 
Bokeria dismissed the comments as hearsay, and said it's a 
moot point, as the diesel voucher program is now completed. 
 
GYLA Cites Misuse of Administrative Resources 
--------------------------------------------- 
 
6. (U) GYLA released their first interim report on the misuse 
of administrative resources on April 30 (emailed to 
EUR/CARC).  Many of the cases they cite appear tangential, 
and may easily be rebuffed as election campaign promises and 
appearances.  However, due to vague election code language, 
it is unclear whether the violations are actually contrary to 
the law.  The diesel voucher case above is one of their more 
compelling observed violations, if true.  The report focuses 
on the following four reported trends: 
 
-- Active participation by public officials in the 
pre-election campaign. 
-- Citizen subordination by donation of material goods and 
promises (including gifts ranging from party favors up to a 
bus). 
-- Blurring the division between state and political party 
activity. 
-- Failure of the local media to provide information to 
district election commissions per CEC requirements. 
 
Maestro TV Works Around License Denial 
-------------------------------------- 
 
7. (U) In early April, the Georgian National Communications 
Commission (GNCC) denied a license to Maestro TV to broadcast 
political programming.  The small, cable entertainment 
channel (broadcasting music videos in Tbilisi, Rustavi, 
Telavi, and Gori) is linked to the opposition, as UNC leader 
Levan Gachechiladze's brother, Giorgi, is a reported partner 
in the company.  Maestro had begun airing political programs 
in violation of their license prior to the decision.  A GNCC 
decision is pending on Maestro's request to modify their 
existing license.  To circumvent the previous GNCC ruling, 
and pending the decision on modification, the company is now 
airing political shows and news with music overlaid, and 
simulcasting the programs' audio via radio. 
 
Joint Opposition Briefs Diplomatic Corps, 
Criticizes International Community and U.S. 
------------------------------------------- 
 
8. (SBU) Joint Opposition (the UNC and New Rightists) leaders 
Salome Zourabichvili and Kakha Kukava met with the diplomatic 
corps in an April 30 meeting.  Zourabichvili criticized the 
international community and the U.S. for allegedly not paying 
more attention to the election.  (Note: We find these 
"briefings" by the opposition are more staged for the cameras 
than for any meaningful dialogue with the international 
community.  Ambassador Tefft had a previous commitment and 
 
TBILISI 00000726  003 OF 003 
 
 
could not attend.  End note.)  She said the international 
community was focusing only on the situation regarding 
Abkhazia and increased tension with Russia.  Zourabichvili 
then implied that this tension with Russia -- which she 
claimed is always present before elections -- was in the 
GOG's interest as it would increase UNM support in the 
election.  She noted that the government had not upheld the 
agreements the UNC had reached with Nino Burjanadze following 
the January election. 
 
9. (SBU) Zourabichvili and Kukava then detailed several 
issues the Joint Opposition deems necessary for free and fair 
elections.  These include: dismissal of the CEC Chairman, 
correcting the voters' list to reflect Georgians living 
abroad, ending intimidation against opposition candidates, 
placing video cameras in historically-problematic regions, 
and ceasing pressure on opposition CEC members.  Kukava said 
that all the violations they have presented to the CEC and/or 
courts have been dismissed.  EC Ambassador Per Eklund 
countered Zourabichvili's comments as "unfair."  He noted 
that the EU and U.S. have given a great deal of assistance 
toward fair elections, and that the international community 
is indeed following both events closely.  He said that he had 
hoped to hear "some of the Joint Opposition's platform, and 
not just their complaints."  In the end, Eklund said, fair 
elections are the government's responsibility and not the 
international community's.  ODIHR Ambassador Boris Frlec 
added that ODIHR's sizable contingent is entirely focused 
only on the elections.  He pointed out that the opposition 
must work through formal channels, and that the Joint 
Opposition's complaints should be taken -- in writing -- to 
the IATF. 
TEFFT

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