Assessment of the pre-election environment of the 2021 self-government elections in Georgia

Local self-government elections will be held in Georgia in October 2021. On June 1, the International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (hence referred to as ISFED) began monitoring the country's pre-election period with the assistance of 70 long-term observers. The monitoring report contains an assessment of the country's political and legal environment, including ongoing electoral reform, political party activities, and continuous processes in the media and government institutions before an official start of the electoral campaign.

The local self-government elections gained a new importance due to the agreement reached between the parties under the mediation of the European Union (EU) on April 19, 2021. The decision to conduct extraordinary parliamentary elections will be decided based on the outcome of the subsequent local elections. The concerns raised during the 2020 parliamentary elections and the post-election political upheaval have significantly weakened public faith in the democratic process. This issue is exacerbated by the economic depression brought about by the pandemic, social tensions, and heightened political polarization, all of which enhance the possibility of societal nihilism. To address this, election administration, political parties, media outlets, and civic groups must put enormous effort into ensuring that public trust in democratic institutions and their foundation - elections, remains unshaken and unconditional.

The agreement made between political parties prior to the 2021 elections allows for systemic changes, notably in the areas of elections and the judiciary, as well as in the fields of legislative separation of powers and systematic anti-corruption efforts. It is critical to use all available channels to ensure that reforms do not reflect narrow party interests, are not superficial and tailored to a particular political climate, and are directed at the country's long-term democratic advancement.