On 9 September 2013 presidential candidate Nino Burjanadze declared in an interview with Maestro TV: “Clearly, administrative resources are being used by the Georgian Dream [coalition] when Ministers accompany the [presidential] candidate to meetings.” Burjanadze made this statement following a meeting with Philip Dimitrov, the EU Ambassador to Georgia.FactCheck
decided to check the accuracy of Nino Burjanadze’s statement.
According to Georgian legislation, the preparatory process of presidential elections and its actual implementation, the rights and guarantees of the electors and the procedures of forming the election administration and its authority are regulated by the Georgian organic law; namely, the Election Code of Georgia.
Nino Burjanadze’s statement referred to the ministers’ participation in the pre-election campaign of Giorgi Margvelashvili, the presidential candidate of the Georgian Dream – Democratic Georgia, which she evaluates as the use of administrative resources.
The pre-election campaigns of presidential elections of Georgia are regulated by Chapter 6 (pre-election campaign) of the Election Code of Georgia. Article 48 Paragraph 1 of the Code bans the use of administrative resources in the process of pre-election agitation and campaigning; in particular:
a) utilisation of premises occupied by the bodies of state and local self-government as well as organisations funded from the Georgian state budget if other election subjects are unable to use the premises of same or similar function under the same conditions.
b) use of means of communication, information services and other kinds of equipment designated for the bodies of state and local self-government as well as organisations funded from the Georgian state budget (exclusive of political parties).
c) utilisation of means of transportation owned by the bodies of state or local self-government.
Paragraph 4 of Article 45 (pre-election campaign [agitation]) lists the individuals who are prohibited from conducting or participating in pre-election agitation. In accordance with this norm any individual is entitled to conduct and participate in pre-election agitation except for:
a) a member of an election commission
b) a judge
c) civil servants of the Ministries of Internal Affairs and Defence, Prosecutor’s Office, Intelligence Service and Special State Protection Service
d) the Auditor General
e) Public Defender of Georgia
f) aliens and foreign organisations
g) charity and religious organisations
h) civil servants of bodies of State and local self-government during work hours and/or while directly carrying out their duties
i) members of the Georgian National Communications Commission (GNCC) and the Georgian National Energy and Water Supply Regulatory Commission
Subparagraphs c and h of this legislative norm prove to be relevant with regard to Nino Burjanadze’s statement. Accordingly, the purpose of our research was to determine whether or not the ministers represented public officials of the Ministries of Internal Affairs and Defence (Subparagraph c), and/or civil servants of the State Government (Subparagraph h). The list of positions performing civil service is given in the Law of Georgia on Civil Service. In accordance with Article 5 of this law, civil service is performed by:
a) State-political officials
b) Civil servants
c) Support personnel
d) Freelance servants
Therefore, a civil servant is only one type of position entitled to perform civil service. As stated in Paragraph 1 of Article 6 of the same law, a civil servant is a person who is appointed or elected to serve on a staff in a budgetary agency. According to Paragraph 2 of Article 6, civil servants are divided into state servants and local self-government servants. This is precisely the category of civil servants who, under Article 45 Paragraph 4 Subparagraph h of the Election Code of Georgia, are restricted from conducting or participating in the pre-election agitation during work hours and/or while directly carrying out their duties.
As noted above, a state-political official is one of the types of civil service positions. In accordance with Article 1 Paragraph 3 of the Law of Georgia on Civil Service, state-political positions are as follows:
a) President of Georgia
b) Members of the Parliament of Georgia
c) Prime Minister of Georgia and other members of the Government of Georgia
d) Members of the supreme representative bodies of Abkhazia and Ajara
e) Heads of Governments of the Autonomous Republics of Abkhazia and Ajara
As stated in Subparagraph 2 of Article 78 of the Constitution of Georgia, the Government of Georgia is comprised of the Prime Minister and Ministers. Therefore, in accordance with Article 1 Paragraph 3 Subparagraph c of the Law of Georgia on Civil Service, Ministers represent the state-political officials and not civil servants.
Nino Burjanadze might also be referring to Article 48 Paragraph 1 Subparagraph c of the Election Code of Georgia in her statement which prohibits the utilisation of means of transportation owned by state bodies, considering it the use of administrative resources. Paragraph 2 of the same Article states, however, that “Restrictions shall not be applied on the utilisation by state-political officials of vehicles of office use which in the form defined by the law are protected by the Special State Protection Service.
Conclusion According to the Law of Georgia on Civil Service, Ministers represent not state civil servants but state-political officials whom the Election Code of Georgia does not prohibit from conducting or participating in pre-election agitation. Their participation in the pre-election campaign does not constitute by itself an act forbidden by the Election Code of Georgia – the use of administrative resources. Accordingly, Nino Burjanadze’s statement, asserting that the Georgian Dream coalition is using administrative resources when Ministers accompany the presidential candidate to meetings, is FALSE.