OSCE begins preparations for Georgia’s presidential election

The OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) has formally opened its election observation mission (EOM) for the October 28 presidential election in Georgia. The mission’s deployment follows an invitation from the Georgian authorities.

The mission is led by Ambassador Geert-Hinrich Ahrens, and consists of a core team of 14 experts based in Tbilisi and 28 long-term observers, who will be deployed throughout the country in teams of two from 26 September. In addition, ODIHR will request that OSCE participating States provide 350 short-term observers, who will arrive several days before election day.

The mission will assess the presidential election for its compliance with OSCE commitments and other international obligations and standards for democratic elections, as well as with national legislation. Observers will closely monitor candidate registration, campaign activities, the work of the election administration and relevant governmental bodies, election-related legislation and its implementation, the media environment, and the resolution of election-related disputes.

In the course of its observation, the mission will meet with representatives from state authorities and political parties, as well as with candidates, and with representatives from civil society, the media and the international community. The mission will publish an interim report in the course of its work.

On election day, observers will monitor the opening of polling stations, voting, the counting of ballots and the tabulation of results.

The day after the elections, the mission, together with its partners from the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the European Parliament and the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, will issue a statement of preliminary findings and conclusions at a press conference in Tbilisi. ODIHR will issue a final report on the observation approximately eight weeks after the end of the electoral process.

Following amendments to Georgia’s constitution in 2017, October’s elections will be the last direct presidential vote; in the future, presidents will be elected by the 300-member College of Electors. In view of these changes, the president will be elected for a term of six years in 2018. Favourite to become president is French-born Salome Zurabishvili, an independent former foreign minister backed by the ruling Georgian Dream party.