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Brosse Street Journal » Elections:

Opinion: The Georgian Elections as Seen by a Tajik Journalist

By Malika Rakhmanova
Brosse Street Journal
Sunday, October 15 2006
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On the 5th of October many Georgian citizens went out to vote for their local self-governance Sakrebulos. As a foreigner, it was difficult and a bit perplexing, but at the same time interesting, to observe how these elections were held, particularly as the system here differs from the local governance system in Tajikistan.

I was confused when I first tried to understand this system. But the process of self-education and expanding one’s knowledge is an integral part of being a journalist, so therefore I dug into the Internet and little by little I have been learning about Georgia’s new self-governance system.

My first assignment with regard to election coverage was to find out how the Central Election Commission (CEC) of Georgia was preparing for elections and I learned a lot from the CEC.

So, what is local self-governance? As I learned, these elections were held to determine Georgia’s self-governance system which is made up of representative organs – the Sakrebulo – and executive organs – the mayor and Gamgeoba. The mayor is the head of the executive branch of local government in cities while the Gamgeoba represents the executive branch in communities.

Two interesting aspects of the Georgian Election Code are the stipulations which say that all visually impaired people must be provided with special Braille ballots and that disabled people must be provided with moveable ballot boxes, which should be delivered to anyone who is physically unable to get to their voting station. These are issues that I had never thought about before.

Another amazing thing was the fact that ballots were printed in three different languages. At the same time, it was a little bit sad that not every Armenian or Azerbaijani voter who needed these ballots was provided with one. CEC representatives said that this was because some election precincts in the regions where Armenians and Azerbaijanis live didn’t request such ballots.

Language wasn’t the only problem encountered by voters and it was astonishing to learn that some people were unable to find their names on the voter lists. These examples indicate that the CEC’s preparation work was imperfect and that there was a lack of cooperation between central and regional election districts and precincts in Georgia.

I also observed that, in the course of carrying out my journalistic work, some Georgian voters were not very active in these elections. Some of them even didn’t even know why the elections were being held or what a Sakrebulo is. Unfortunately, I think that this situation exists in the entire former-Soviet world.


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