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The Åland Islands Peace Institute

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Publication about
the Åland Example

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Larsingmar_72The presidential election in Georgia on 27 October was monitored by a large number of international observers from 50 organizations and agencies, among them the Åland Islands Peace Institute, which was represented by former General Secretary of the Åland Parliament, Lars Ingmar Johansson, member of the Institute’s Board of Directors.

Lars Ingmar Johansson has received a personal invitation from the Georgian presidential election authority. In March 2013 a delegation from the central presidential election commission of Georgia visited Finland and spent one day in Åland, aiming to get acquaintance with the autonomy and election system. A group headed by the presidential election commission’s chairman Mr. Zurah Kharatishvili, got information on election issues from some experienced election agents, inter alia Lars Ingmar Johansson. Late summer he received an invitation from the election commission, together with other international invitees, to participate in the presidential election as an observer. Observers who represented an agency or organization got accreditations from the election authority. For instance EU and OSCE were represented by numerous delegations.

According to preliminary reports from among others the OSCE, the election was performed correctly. Lars Ingmar Johansson commented that the register of electors had been improved and that education of the election agents had been prioritized. A lot of printed material had been produced and also translated into English. The more than 1200 international observers present were provided with the material. Moreover, Georgia’s election commission has facilitated for the country’s ethnical minorities to vote by printing election materials and spreading information in three different minority languages.

- My impression is that the election was implemented under calm and ordered circumstances and that inadequacies exposed during previous elections had been removed to a large extent, says Lars Ingmar Johansson, who within his mission had contacts with many other observers and with the ambassador of Finland in Georgia.

The winner of the election was Georgy Margvelashvili from the party Georgian Dream. He succeeded the outgoing president Michail Saakashvili who had been a president for two periods and could not be re-elected. Saakashvili led the so called rose revolution initiated in 2000 and modernized Georgia, but later he was criticized for an authoritarian leadership. Before the presidential election, the State Constitution was reformed and the president’s power was reduced in favour of the parliament and government.

During an official visit to Finland in October 2007 Saakashvili visited Åland on his own wish. The former Parliament Speaker Barbro Sundback, who is the chairperson of the board of directors of the Åland Islands Peace Institute, hosted this visit. Ex-president Saakashvili had a meeting among others with the director of the Peace Institute.

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