In 2018 Government of Georgia has spent about 65 million GEL on election preparations and funding political parties. Averaged 40 million GEL is spent on elections in Georgia, while 12-15 million GEL is paid to political parties a year.
The statistics of election costs after 2012 shows that about 35-40 million GEL is spent on each election process. At the same time, funding of political parties and other expenses of Central Election Commission (CEC) keeps growing, such as improving the election environment and so on. For example, in 2012 the CEC budget was 52 million GEL, in 2013 – 58 million GEL; in 2016 – 69 million GEL, in 2017 – 60 million GEL and in 2018 – 67 million GEL, but the runoff poll increased the expenses by about 10 million GEL. Moreover, as compared to the previous years, the election costs considerably increased in 2018 because of the runoff poll and the fact the 2018 presidential elections were announced 2 months earlier.
«About 39 million GEL was allocated for the 2018 elections, but the election was appointed not 60 days earlier, but much earlier and the longer period increased the election costs too. Ad hoc members were also appointed in the election administration. As reported, the CEC elects only one member in districts, while the remaining 6 members are appointed by political parties.
The extended election period grows salary costs too. As a result, the state budget revision was required. Increased expenses increased the demand by 4 million GEL, but the CEC had reserves of 700 000 GEL and the actual demand constituted 3.4 million GEL. This demand has been already submitted to the Ministry of Finance. Total expenses for the 2018 elections will be about 42 million GEL, of which 1.2 million GEL will be spent on rating issues, 9 million GEL – on TV time of qualified political parties and their representatives”, Tamar Zhvania, the CEC chairperson, said.
As to the presidential runoff poll, the state budget has allocated 10 583 022 GEL, of which 167 000 GEL will finance trainings of the election staff. At the same time, under the government resolution, representatives of the election participant bodies will be funded by 381 450 GEL.
To better imagine the amount of the election costs, we can draw parallels with other costs. For example, the country spends as much money for each election process as on professional military education (43 million GEL), international peacekeeping missions (40 million GEL) and vocational education (40 million GEL). Expenses for one election process amounts to the total funds spent on immunization (22 million GEL), AIDS management (10 million GEL), providing medications to patients with chronic disorders (10 million GEL) and drug addicts treatment (9.2 million GEL).
Pre-election costs that political parties take are as impressive as millions of GEL spent from the state budget for administration of elections.
According to the 2017 indicators, 39 political parties spent more than 39 million GEL on advertising campaigns, business trips and salaries. Two third of these funds (20 607 450 GEL) was spent by the ruling party.
It should be also noted that not only influential political parties receive significant funds from the state budget, members of which win seats at the parliament and take more or less active part in the political life of Georgia. The so-called invisible political parties also get portions from the state budget. For example, in 2017 Union of Traditionalists of Georgia received 533 017 GEL from the state budget, Freedom – Zviad Gamsakhurdia’s Way – 543 421 GEL, the New Christian-Democrats – 543 017 GEL. Majority of these funds are spent on salaries. Namely: Freedom – Zviad Gamsakhurdia’s Way spent 306 517 GEL on salaries, Industry will Save Georgia issued bonuses, besides salaries, and total amount made up 237 300 GEL in 2017.
As to private donations, Salome Zurabishvili leads in this component too. According to the State Audit, since August 1 through October 28 the presidential candidates have spent about 14 million GEL, including Salome Zurabishvili – 6 351 949 GEL, United National Movement – 1 133 536 GEL and European Georgia – 1 026 784 GEL. These expenses comprise both budget funds and donations and various categories of costs.
According to Transparency International Georgia, from August 1 to October 15 Salome Zurabishvili, backed by the ruling party, and five other candidates of qualified political parties spent 6 911 676 GEL, including Salome Zurabishvili 4 124 047 GEL (60%), Grigol Vashadze – 1 485 604 GEL and David Bakradze – 882 313 GEL. According to these indicators, the costs taken by Salome Zurabishvili exceeds Grigol Vashadze’s expenses three times and surpasses consolidated expenses of all five opposition presidential candidates 1.5 times.
In the runoff period, the ratio of Salome Zurabishvili in total donations made up 87% (3 592 724 GEL). As to Grigol Vashadze, supporters donated 535 599 GEL to him (13% in total donations). According to the organization indicators, a total of 621 persons made donations to Salome Zurabishvili and 157 of them had made donations to other political parties in previous years. A total of 137 physical bodies have donated to Georgian Dream and they have transferred 1 750 900 GEL to Salome Zurabishvili, which is 22% in total donations.