On air on Rustavi 2, Chairman of the Georgian Dream – Democratic Georgia fraction, Gia Volski, stated: "We should be pragmatic. There is no [official] pre-election period in European democracy which lasts for more than three months. The only case, which I remember, is Belgium with a three-month pre-elections period and this time is shorter in other European countries. A pre-elections period of five-to-six months is harmful for the state budget as well as from an organisational point of view."

On 5 April 2016, prior to the announcement of the Parliamentary elections in October, President Giorgi Margvelashvili and Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili conducted negotiations following which the President publicly announced the date of the Parliamentary elections as 8 October. In addition, he said that the elections campaign will commence on 8 August. The news that the pre-elections period would start on 8 August provoked ambiguity in that this date contradicts elections legislation. According to legislation, the pre-elections period starts upon the publicising of the legal act setting the date for the election. Therefore, in the case of the Prime Minister’s countersigning of the President’s act, the elections campaign was to have started in April; that is, six months before the election. FactCheck has already written

about the controversies related to the start date of the elections campaign. Giorgi Volski, in commenting upon the ambiguity, stated that the elections period should not continue for more than three months.

FactCheck looked into the most recent elections and the starting dates of their pre-elections (official) periods in most of the countries of the European Union. We determined that there is a three-month pre-elections period in only two member countries – Belgium and Cyprus. In the cases of Slovakia and Latvia, the period is four months and in the case of Lithuania – the period is six months. In others, the pre-elections period comprises only two months (Italy, Malta, Poland) or less (Estonia, Hungary, Luxembourg), only one month in some others (Austria, Bulgaria, Finland, Greece, Netherlands, Romania, Slovenia, Sweden) and two-three weeks in still others (Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Ireland, Spain, United Kingdom, Portugal).

On 10 May, the President announced that the pre-elections campaign for the October 2016 Parliamentary elections will commence on 8 June. In this case, therefore, the campaign will last four months. The President made this decision after further consultations conducted with the Prime Minister, the Parliamentary Spokesman and the Head of the Central Election Commission.

Conclusion

Among the 28 members of the European Union, the pre-elections period starts three months before the elections date in only two countries – Belgium and Cyprus. In the cases of Slovakia and Latvia, it continues for four months and in the case of Lithuania – six months. In the others, the pre-elections (official) period comprises two months or less.

Therefore, Giorgi Volski’s statement is MOSTLY TRUE.

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