08TBILISI922, BUILDING DEMOCRATIC CULTURE THROUGH SUPPORT OF GEORGIA’S

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08TBILISI922 2008-06-02 12:57 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXYZ0000
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHSI #0922/01 1541257
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 021257Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 9548
INFO RUEHYE/AMEMBASSY YEREVAN 2287
RUEHKB/AMEMBASSY BAKU 1985
RUEHKV/AMEMBASSY KIEV
RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW 8158

UNCLAS TBILISI 000922 
 
SIPDIS 
 
FOR EUR/PPD AND EUR/CARC 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: OIIP SCUL KPAO GG
SUBJECT: BUILDING DEMOCRATIC CULTURE THROUGH SUPPORT OF GEORGIA'S 
PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS 
 
1.  Summary and Context:  The Public Affairs Section (PAS) in 
Tbilisi developed and executed a robust public diplomacy strategy to 
support Georgia's parliamentary elections on May 21, taking into 
account the challenging political environment with powerful domestic 
political tensions and a looming crisis in the breakaway regions of 
Abkhazia and South Ossetia.  In preparing the strategy, PAS first 
identified three target issues:  helping develop a Georgian 
political culture; explaining the need for democratic solutions in 
which election results are accepted; and explaining the role and 
mechanics of electoral procedures, including election monitoring. 
PAS then designed public diplomacy programming around these issues 
targeting first time voters; journalists and the media; the general 
public and the academic elite and reaching Georgians throughout the 
country through the media, person-to-person contacts, and alumni 
outreach.  End Summary. 
 
Public Service Announcement: Many Voices - One Georgia 
--------------------------------------------- --------- 
 
2.  "We have polyphony in our singing; why can't we have it in our 
political life?" These words, from a noted Georgian painter, 
inspired PAS to produce a public service announcement promoting 
political plurality and voter participation in the parliamentary 
elections.  Playing on the dual meaning of "khma" - Georgian for 
both voice and vote - the PSA features one of Georgia's most beloved 
and well-known polyphonic songs sung by Georgians in different 
regional costumes, including Abkhazian, Ossetian, Azeri, Armenian, 
and Russian, representing Georgia's minority communities, including 
from the conflict zones.  As the PSA begins, singers fill a darkened 
stage, ending with a richly varied picture of the country, to the 
voice-over message "For Polyphony every voice is important. Use your 
voice (vote) for Georgia."  Georgian Public Broadcaster aired the 
PSA 70[w1] times between the hours of 1:00 pm and 12:00 am in the 
fifteen days weeks prior to the elections. 
 
Why Should I Trust a Parallel Vote Tally (PVT)? 
--------------------------------------------- -- 
 
3. PAS worked with Georgian Public Broadcast to develop a talk show 
featuring Georgian experts from the NGO sector on election 
procedures to counter the widespread lack of understanding of how 
election results are verified.  Among other issues, the experts 
discussed parallel vote tallies (PVTs), exit polls, and the role of 
election monitors.  The show aired during prime time on the last 
Friday before the elections.  Film clips of Georgian citizens on the 
street asking questions about electoral procedures were answered in 
front of the studio by the panel of Georgian experts from NGOs 
active in election monitoring.  Based on the number and type of SMS 
messages and phone calls received at the studio, the program was 
welcomed by the public. 
 
20 Questions for First-Time Voters 
---------------------------------- 
 
4.  PAS worked with FLEX and UGRAD exchange program alumni on 
encouraging first-time voters.  Working with experts and volunteers, 
PAS first designed a quiz on election procedures and citizen's 
rights.  Alumni, PAS staff, and representatives from two NGOs active 
in monitoring the elections using USAID assistance - the 
International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED) and 
the Georgian Young Lawyer's Association (GYLA) - then traveled to 
eight cities across Georgia to give presentations on Georgian 
election law and citizen rights at twelve national and regional 
Universities, after which 320 students took the quiz.  (The quiz 
could also be taken on-line via on IREX's Internet Access and 
Training Program's (IATP) website.)  A week later, a second round 
quiz was given to the 60 highest scorers from across the country, 
and Post is planning an award ceremony hosted by the Ambassador for 
the second-round winners.  This innovative program received national 
television coverage - and bounce - the morning before the elections 
when 20 FLEX alumni who had worked on the program were featured on a 
morning news show staging mock election procedures at an actual 
polling station as Central Election Commission (CEC) staff and ISFED 
observers commented and explained election procedures. 
 
The View from the Regions 
-------------------------- 
 
5.  PAS joined Pol-Econ staff on circuit rider teams to five cities 
in the regions of Georgia to survey the pre-election situation.  PAS 
staff assisted in gathering information on the state of the regional 
media, arranged media interviews, and coordinated speaking 
opportunities on election themes at one American Study Center[w2]. 
Analysis of local media coverage was particular useful in evaluating 
balance in reporting and whether equal media access was given to all 
candidates.  PAS staff also served as election monitors throughout 
Georgia on election day. 
 
 
Voting in Azeri 
--------------- 
 
6.  PAS worked with an ethnic Azeri Muskie alumnus to speak t
o Azeri 
youths in the Azeri language about the need for bona fide civic 
participation in the elections. The minority regions of Georgia were 
identified as of particular concern due to a high voter turnout rate 
for the January 5 presidential election coupled with the lack of 
voter information in minority languages.  (For these reasons the 
heaviest focus of Embassy election monitoring was in those regions.) 
 
 
Tapping into Interest in the American Elections 
--------------------------------------------- -- 
 
7.  Interest in the US election has been extremely high in Georgia, 
and PAS built on this interest to raise[w3] discussion of Georgian 
political culture.  This was done through a robust electronic 
outreach program through our Information Resource Center (IRC).  In 
order to reach both the broadest possible audience and to expand our 
client base, the IRC began a systematic electronic campaign to share 
information broadly connected to the U.S. elections with PAS 
contacts, including from the media, think tanks, academia and 
government by means of an open house to attract new clients. 
 
8. PAS used a Foreign Press Center Reporting Tour to the Texas 
Primaries and a TV co-op to the Pennsylvania Primary to get broad 
media coverage of the U.S. primary elections.  TV co-op segments 
aired to date include footage of a "Kids vote" program in which 
American youth are educated in politics, and a visit to the 
University of Virginia Center for the Study of Politics.  The co-op 
reports were broadcast over a series of weeks on the most highly 
watched Georgian TV channel to favorable audience response. 
 
9. PAS also arranged for and participated in a series of talks 
throughout Georgia on the American elections. Events[w4] were held 
at three academic institutions in Tbilisi, at Universities in 
Kutaisi and Akhaltsikhe, and at an American corner in Batumi. 
Interest in the U.S. elections spilled over into active discussion 
of the Georgian elections, and into a comparison of our two systems. 
 As part of PAS's first-time voter outreach programming, two 
American Fulbright students gave presentations on the U.S. elections 
at national and regional universities, and PAS plans a quiz program 
on the U.S. elections as a follow-on to the first-time voter quiz 
cited above. 
 
 
TEFFT 
 
 
 
 
[w1]Steve -- they told us they woudl air it 8 times a day for hte 15 
days prior to the election.  Did they only air it 70 times? 
 
[w2]these trips weren't just media focussed -- they also met with 
party representatives, etc.  please rould this out more 
[w3]raise as in to elevate or as in to instigate/encourage? 
[w4]I'm not sure these were fora -- perhaps panel discussions?

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