As Georgian voters prepare for a parliamentary election on October 8, various irregularities – among them, coup-plot allegations and the explosion of an opposition politician’s car – suggest that democratic practices in Georgia still leave much to be desired.
A clean and peaceful election could reinforce Georgia’s credentials for membership in the European Union and North Atlantic Treaty Organization, its two long-term goals. And so far, analysts generally agree that, compared with 2012, when former President Mikheil Saakashvili’s United National Movement (UNM) was in power, this campaign season has improved. The government, now run by the Georgian Dream-Democratic Georgia, has not hindered opposition access to broadcast media (though some insist they tried and news outlets still play political favorites) nor imposed administrative or financial restraints on opposition candidates.
Preparing voter lists, registering parties and forming election commissions largely have been criticism-free.
Yet, as in elections past, the struggle for control of the country’s 150-seat legislature has been far short of calm.
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Giorgi Lomsadze is a freelance journalist and a frequent contributor to EurasiaNet.org's Tamada Tales blog.