Swiss help Georgia plan ‘peaceful’ elections

Switzerland has been working to promote peace and democracy in Georgia for several years, the foreign ministry says. @ Keystone / Alexandra Wey

Several political parties in Georgia have signed a Swiss-backed code of conduct setting out best practices for upcoming elections in the Caucasus state.

This content was published on September 15, 2020 - 15:36

“By signing this code, the parties reaffirm their commitment to a free and fair election campaign,” the Swiss foreign ministry wrote on Monday.

Over recent months Bern has worked with Georgia’s Central Election Commission to draft a document setting ground rules for the October 31 parliamentary elections in Georgia – ground rules for a “peaceful election and fair campaign”.

These include regulations on transparency of campaign funding, as well as measures to prevent the spread of hate speech on social media and other platforms.

‘Pivotal’ elections

The measures are non-binding, with parties “voluntarily” pledging to respect them. So far several parties, including the ruling Georgian Dream – Democratic Georgia party, have signed the code. Switzerland’s foreign ministry has encouraged all political parties in Georgia to do the same.

With recently adopted constitutional amendments introducing a more proportional electoral system in Georgia, the foreign ministry says the upcoming elections will be “pivotal in shaping the country’s future political landscape”.

Georgia, which became an independent state after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, has been seen as a poster child for democratic transition, although in recent years human rights groups have criticised the government over a lack of progress on judicial reform and for putting pressure on independent media.

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