DRI: Clergy were less involved in the election campaign in the run-up to the second round of elections

The Democracy Research Institute is publishing its second interim report on the participation of religious organizations and clergy in the election campaign and their activity in the post-election period.

The report covers a period from November 1 to the second round of elections (including November 21), but it also describes the events developed after the second round of elections. According to the monitoring results, there were a number of alleged cases of clergymen campaigning in favour of certain political entities before the October 31 elections, although they were more restrained regarding the electoral process in the run-up to the second round.

Moreover, the Patriarchate has not made an official statement on the final results of the 2020 parliamentary elections even after the end of the second round. Andria Jagmaidze, Head of the Public Relations Department of the Patriarchate, said before the second round of the parliamentary elections that he did not consider it relevant to make political statements during the political tension, especially given that the final results were not officially announced yet.

However, the Patriarchate has virtually always congratulated the party winning elections, regardless of whether the final results of the election were announced. For example, in November 2018, the Catholicos Patriarch of All Georgia, Ilia II, congratulated Salome Zurabishvili on her victory in the second round of the presidential election the very next day, when the election results were not yet officially summed up. The Patriarch congratulated Bidzina Ivanishvili on his victory on October 5, 2012, 4 days after the elections, whereas the Central Election Commission announced the final results of the elections on October 19, 2012.

It is difficult to assertively say that the Patriarchate broke the tradition of previous years due to the principle of secularism and complete distancing from political processes, especially given the high political activity of the clergy in the pre-election period. However, in general, the restrained position of the Patriarchate should be evaluated positively.