On 18th of August 2022, “Georgia Dream” banned International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED) from participating in the working group on electoral issues.
Banning ISFED’s participation in the working group on electoral issues is an attempt to discredit critical and independent CSOs and this decision has a discriminatory content and pretext on the grounds of freedom of opinion and its expression. Such a decision of the ruling party is unfair and unreasonable. It contradicts the spirit of the 1st and the 10th priorities set by the European Union which require depolarization and ensuring the “involvement of civil society in decision-making processes at all levels.”
Regardless that the ruling party did not fully represent unified vision regarding the process of implementing the priorities defined by EU, it did not create well-organized and inclusive democratic process and it did not hold preliminary consultations with CSOs or other independent actors regarding the rules and the principles of the working groups, we attempt to use every opportunity of communication and cooperation with the parliament. Despite the fact that a number of civil society organizations expressed their willingness to participate in the working groups established under committees of the parliament to fulfill the priorities defined by EU, “Georgian Dream” allowed cooperation under its own terms and with an extremely limited number of CSOs only. Despite the artificial obstacles created by “Georgian Dream” and, mainly, non-inclusively established working groups, we, the representatives of the civil sector, until now conscientiously and constructively have taken part in all the working groups where we have given such opportunity. We present our proposals and opinions to the working groups regarding the issues under consideration.
ISFED is a leading civil society organization which works on electoral issues since 1995. It must be noted that since its establishment, ISFED has in fact monitored every election and referendum that took place. Furthermore, ISFED was nominated by the Georgian National Platform created within the framework of the Eastern Partnership (EaP) to participate in the working group.
The reasons identified by the First Deputy Chairman of the Parliamentary Fraction "Georgian Dream" and the Head of the Working Group on Revision of Election Code - Givi Mikanadze, for banning ISFED from participating in the working group constitute willful hindering of the qualified and highly experienced civil society organization and discrimination on the grounds of freedom of opinion and its expression. Discrediting ISFED for critical views indicates that the ruling party does not comprehend the supervisory functions of the CSOs.
Unequal and unfair working environment created by the “Georgian Dream” leaves no room for the participation of civil society organizations in the working process initiated by the ruling party.
We call on “Georgian Dream” to fully comprehend the harmful effects of their decision and ensure the involvement of International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED) in the working group on electoral issues before the next meeting of this group.
Until the ban on ISFED is lifted, the signatory organizations of this statement will suspend their participation in all of the working groups created upon the initiative of the ruling party.
The Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI)
Democracy Research Institute (DRI)
Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association (GYLA)
Social Justice Center (SJC)