On March 11, 2018, the host of a TV show Night Studio on TV channel Obiektivi, Nino Ratishvili, stated that the 2008 Presidential Snap Elections in Georgia were rigged and the West never showed any interest in the fact that voters’ opinions were neglected.
The assessment, that the West allegedly rigged presidential elections of 2008 and recognized Mikheil Saakashvili as the president of Georgia based on its own interests, is not true and is aimed at strengthening the message that the West has double standards and the Western democracy is conditional. Reports from international observers include numerous violations and recommendations with regards to these elections.
Mikheil Saakashvili received 53.47% of votes in the 2008 Presidential Elections. Many local and international organizations' observation missions mentioned in their reports the violations that accompanied the electoral process.
The OSCE identified violations in election campaigns, as well as in the vote counting process. The conditions for the campaigning were evaluated as "uneven”.
The OSCE report also stated that tensions were observed on the polling stations and in nearby areas. In addition, the marking of the voters was improperly inspected. The OSCE report notes that some voters were not checked at the polling stations at all.
The OSCE report also noted that despite the large number of violations, the election commissions and the court "received very few complaints“. The opposition parties and NGOs explained this by the lack of trust in the government and the court. Also, the OSCE/ODIHR Observation Mission was told that citizens were afraid to file a complaint about politically motivated violations.
The part of the report, which describes the pre-election period, indicates that the election campaigns were based more on mutual accusations than sharing the promises to the voters.
The US Department of State expressed concern over the violations in the election process, particularly the use of administrative resources and the ineffectiveness of the ballot counting process.
There are also number of violations outlined in the IRI report regarding the election campaign process, marking of voters on election day and counting of votes. IRI underlines 7 major violations:
- Problems related to ballot papers: IRI observer teams consistently recorded complaints from political party representatives of the high number of red ballots for voters registering on Election Day at precincts, and other accusations of manipulation related to the red ballots.
- Problems related to voters' lists: IRI observer teams recorded widespread complaints related to the flawed voter lists. The most common grievances cited were: deliberate duplicate or twin voters, residences mysteriously created or omitted from lists and deceased persons appearing on the lists.
- Lack of organization: IRI observer teams observed disorganization contributing to a tense political environment which was ultimately rooted in flaws in the Election Code. Notable areas of the code that lack clarity and comprehensiveness are regulations for party representatives inside PECs and firm boundaries for campaign activities around the PECs.
- Lack of professionalism: IRI teams observed an overall lack of professionalism in the conduct of election commission personnel on Election Day, as well as in the general election environment. PEC chairmen and other commissioners generally demonstrated a lack of training and exhibited poor knowledge of the rules and regulations, particularly during the count. In addition, IRI noted that the CEC gave fax machines to each PEC in order to submit protocols in time but many PECs were unable to do so because telephone lines were damaged (or were not checked beforehand) or they did not know how to use the fax machine.
- Problems of marking: IRI observer teams noted two problems with the use of invisible sprayed ink to prevent multiple voting: (1) the ink could easily be spread to others’ hands, and it was washable; and (2) election commissioners were not diligent in checking voters’ hands for the ink as they entered the PEC.
- Problems related to video recording: IRI observer teams noted that election commissioners did not have sufficient knowledge about the purpose and use of video cameras in the PECs.
- Mistrust towards the judiciary system: IRI noted that confidence in the judicial system is severely lacking. Throughout the 2008 presidential election process, neither the political opposition nor private citizens had sufficient confidence in the courts to rule in an impartial and apolitical manner. While judicial reform and the improvement in the rule of law should be a long-term goal of the country, some steps forward in these processes should be evident prior to the spring 2008 parliamentary elections.
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