Behavior of political parties and independent candidates during elections and in pre-election period is often scandalous. Candidates try to win points by insulting and slandering their political opponents, interfering with public meetings organized by other candidates, preventing their appearance in media etc.
This issue was actual in September, 2006 in anticipation of local government elections in Georgia scheduled for October 5th. Local Councils Association of Lanchkhuti municipality tried to address this problem by introducing the idea of ethics code of behavior, which each candidate should agree to follow.
It all began from the end of August, when the President announced the election date. Lanchkhuti Local Councils Association with support from the Urban Institute started development of the basic concepts of appropriate behavior of electoral candidates. After the first draft, they called press conference and sent the document to all political parties and independent candidates for comments and suggestions. The document was also published in 4 local newspapers and general public was encouraged to send their views about the issue.
As the result of the feedback received from the candidates and the public, final version of the document was prepared, approved and published. The official signing ceremony took place during Citizen Participation Week on September 29th 2006. The ceremony was held in the public hall of local council and every local government election candidate of Lanchkhuti district was invited. After the presentation of the ethics code of behavior, each participant signed the document and thus agreed to follow the norms proposed in the code.
This initiative was so successful that other districts expressed their interest to do the same. As the result, ethics code was adopted by two other districts Kobuleti and Ozurgeti, the signing ceremonies were also held during CPW. Moreover, the signing of the document encouraged more appropriate behavior of election candidates. In Lanchkhuti district, for instance, no serious violations of election process on October 5th were reported. Also, no claims towards legitimacy of elections were made by the opposition parties.