08TBILISI968, GEORGIAN PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS WRAP-UP

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08TBILISI968 2008-06-10 14:06 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO5526
PP RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHLN
RUEHLZ RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHSI #0968/01 1621406
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 101406Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9608
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 TBILISI 000968 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR EUR/CARC 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PREL PGOV PHUM KDEM GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIAN PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS WRAP-UP 
 
REF: TBILISI 881 
 
1. (SBU) Summary: On June 5, the Central Election Commission 
(CEC) released the final vote count from Georgia's May 21 
parliamentary elections.  The ruling United National Movement 
(UNM) won 119 seats in the 150-seat Parliament with 59.18 
percent of the vote.  A joint U.S.-UK election monitoring 
mission deployed 38 teams throughout the country.  A look 
back at the elections shows substantial improvement over the 
January presidential election.  The pre-election campaign, 
election day, and the complaints and appeals processes were 
all better.  Importantly, this election showed continued 
improvement in the transparency of the election 
administration begun in January (and strongly supported by 
USAID assistance) with faster and more efficient posting of 
the election protocols on the CEC website.  As all observers 
noted, despite the progress, significant problems were seen 
and challenges remain.  Consequently, the new Parliament, 
which first convened June 7, will need to continue to focus 
on election reform, including: reaching agreement with the 
opposition on the manner in which MPs are elected; continuing 
to improve the voters' list; and continuing education 
efforts, especially in the regions, on what it means to vote 
freely in a democracy -- no intimidation, no strong-arming to 
get out the vote, no forcing businesses to donate, and 
transparency of donations and expenditures by political 
parties.  End Summary. 
 
 
CEC Finalizes Results 
--------------------- 
 
2. (SBU) On June 5, the CEC summarized and released the final 
vote tally for the May 21 parliamentary elections.  The CEC 
said 1,850,407 voters cast ballots, out of 3,465,736 total 
registered voters.  Reportedly, 56,099 ballots were annulled. 
 The ruling UNM received 59.18 percent of the nation-wide 
party list vote, and 71 of the 75 single-mandate majoritarian 
seats, for a total of 119 seats out of 150.  The opposition 
Republican Party did not meet the five percent threshold for 
party list seats but won two majoritarian races.  This gives 
the opposition parties 31 combined seats.  The results for 
the top five parties were reported as: 
 
-- United National Movement, 59.18 percent (1,050,237 votes), 
48 party list seats, 71 majoritarian 
-- Joint Opposition, 17.73, percent (314,668 votes), 15 party 
list seats, 2 majoritarian 
-- Christian-Democratic Movement, 8.66 percent (153,634 
votes) 6 party list seats 
-- Labor Party, 7.44 percent (132,092 votes), 6 party list 
seats 
-- Republican Party, 3.78 percent (67,037 votes), no party 
list seats, 2 majoritarian 
 
Pre-Election Campaign, Election Day, 
and Complaints/Appeals Processes Improved 
----------------------------------------- 
 
3. (SBU) The Pre-Election campaign, Election Day, and the 
complaints and appeals processes all showed improvement 
versus the January 5 presidential election.  Before the 
election, after some concern over a diesel voucher program, 
the government stopped incentive programs which give citizens 
vouchers to exchange for goods.  Several strong statements 
were issued against interference in the election process by 
government officials, including by President Saakashvili and 
the Ministry of Internal Affairs.  The Inter-Agency Task 
Force on Elections (IATF), after a shaky start, also actively 
engaged non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the 
international community in addressing problems facing the 
electoral process.  This public display of political will 
took place in quieter ways, too.  The CEC added opposition 
representatives to the District Election Commissions.  It 
also used USAID-funded training to improve the 
professionalism and consistency of approximately 52,000 
election commission workers.  ODIHR and our own observers 
noted improved professionalism by election officials.  120 
judges were trained in electoral law and proceedings.  As a 
result, the Council of Europe (COE) noted that for the first 
time, the courts overturned a DEC decision.  Multiple 
international organizations (including ODIHR, the COE, and 
the National Democratic Institute) noted that, overall, the 
conduct of election day was improved over January.  The IATF 
issued a report noting that ODIHR's EOM observed fewer 
election day irregularities among the election commissions 
nation-wide than in January. 
 
4. (SBU) The complaints and appeals process, much criticized 
in the days after January 5, also showed substantial 
 
TBILISI 00000968  002 OF 003 
 
 
improvement.  Within a day following the elections, the CEC 
had annulled 14 precincts' results.  In total, 41 precincts 
were annulled, 29 by the CEC and 12 of by the courts.  Both 
before and after the elections, complaints and appeals were 
much less likely to be summarily dismissed by either the 
election commissions or the courts.  While not all cases 
included a review of evidence (and this has been noted by 
ODIHR and other international observers in their rep
orts), 
many more cases were substantially reviewed and appeals 
satisfied during this election cycle.  The IATF issued 
another report (emailed to EUR/CARC) showing these increased 
numbers of court and commission reviews -- and appeals upheld 
-- during the complaints and appeals process versus those 
from the January election. 
 
Embassy Election Observation Mission 
------------------------------------ 
 
5. (SBU) Embassy Tbilisi combined forces with our UK 
counterparts and fielded a pro-active EOM.  28 U.S. teams and 
10 UK teams visited nearly 200 hundred precincts (PECs) in 23 
electoral districts across the country.  We focused our teams 
in historically problematic areas (especially in the ethnic 
minority areas of Kvemo Kartli and Samstkhe-Javakheti, which 
had high turnout rates during the January elections).  Then 
we introduced static coverage by half of the teams, allowing 
us to observe the same PEC from before opening through the 
entire closing process.  Of the 14 precincts annulled within 
a day after the election, 5 came as the result of formal or 
informal complaints by our teams.  It is no surprise that we 
saw problems, as we were actively looking for them.  However, 
our teams saw many more Precinct Election Commission members 
doing their jobs professionally and consistently, regardless 
of where they were located in the country.  Examples of this 
included turning away people who were trying to vote more 
than once or without their voter ID, and removing 
unauthorized individuals from the polling stations. 
 
Transparency Again Improves 
--------------------------- 
 
6. (SBU) The transparency begun for the first time during the 
January election (with USAID assistance), continued during 
this election.  The protocols from each precinct were again 
posted directly on the CEC website, for all to see -- and 
observers can ensure they match those received from the 
precinct on election day.  This process was done considerably 
faster this time, with most protocols being posted within 2 
days of the election (versus more than a week in January). 
USAID-funded implementing partner IFES and the CEC itself 
purchased additional, wireless faxes to expand this 
capability.  Similarly, IFES provided IT expertise to ensure 
more robust capability in receiving and posting the faxes. 
Of the 37 precincts where U.S. and UK observers monitored 
closing procedures, only one of our protocols differed from 
that posted on the CEC website, and the website contained the 
reason for the correction.  (Note: this correction did not 
impact the vote for the UNM.  End note.)  This is notable 
improvement over the differences we observed in January, and 
the lengthy delays we observed in the differences being 
explained by the government. 
 
7. (SBU) In addition, the CEC sessions conducted throughout 
the electoral period were mostly open and transparent (with 
the possible exception of the registration of the UNM party 
list, reported earlier).  The CEC and IATF expressed 
considerably more political will in ensuring transparency, 
responding aggressively to problems, and explaining their 
actions than they had in January.  Embassy Tbilisi has 
consistently encouraged the GOG to move toward transparency 
throughout the electoral process, and we will continue to do 
so. 
 
Generational Challenges Remain 
------------------------------ 
 
8. (SBU) Most of the problems we observed appear to be 
generational challenges.  Many involved apparent local and 
regional authorities and party activists directing election 
commission members and others to get out the vote using 
inappropriate means.  There was intimidation of commission 
members, observers, and NGOs.  While many of the problems we 
saw appeared to be directed at supporting the UNM, this was 
not by any means exclusive (we filed at least one complaint 
where an opposition activist was disrupting the voting 
process and our observers witnessed and urged PEC officials 
to correct many other instances of opposition members acting 
inappropriately).  Currently, the opposition claims ongoing 
attacks against its activists and the Prosecutor General is 
investigating at least four of these cases. 
 
TBILISI 00000968  003 OF 003 
 
 
 
9. (SBU) However, Georgia has a long tradition (even 
predating Soviet times) of using force, numbers, and volume 
to obtain political power.  Notably, the problems we observed 
during this election did not appear to be driven by the 
central government.  Most indicators show that the central 
government committed to improve this election process, and 
make it even more transparent.  Consequently, the trend from 
December through May is positive and needs to be encouraged. 
However, the new Parliament, which met for the first time on 
June 7, must address these ingrained ways of ensuring 
unanimous victories for the ruling party.  They must reach 
out to the opposition and forge agreement on multiple issues. 
 This includes changing the manner in which MPs will be 
elected in the future (i.e. diminish the discrepancies among 
the majoritarian districts).  The voters' list retains 
serious deficiencies, and these must be corrected 
transparently.  Voter education efforts must continue, 
especially in the regions.  The Georgian people and their 
Parliament must know what it means to vote freely in a 
democracy.  Ultimately, democracy in Georgia will have no 
room for intimidation, strong-arm get out the vote tactics, 
or for forcing businesses to donate to political campaigns. 
Rather, transparency by political parties, in all actions, 
donations and expenditures should be key. 
TEFFT

Wikileaks

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