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Public Attitudes, Political Ratings in NDI-commissioned Survey

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On January 16, National Democratic Institute (NDI) released its public opinion survey results, which show respondents’ attitudes towards broad range of issues, among them perceptions of state of democracy, foreign policy, current issues, trust towards politicians and institutions.

The survey was fielded by the Caucasus Resource Research Centers (CRRC) for NDI between November 19 and December 13, 2019 with the financial assistance of the UK Aid, and was carried out through nationwide face-to-face interviews (excluding Georgia’s Russian-occupied territories) with 2,180 respondents (35% response rate) and has an average margin of error plus, minus 1.9%.

According to the poll, perception of country direction is at its lowest in a decade. The number of respondents who think that Georgia is going in the “wrong direction” has increased to 53%, compared to 49% in July 2019. The percentage of respondents who think Georgia is moving to the “right direction” stands at 19%, one percent increase compared to the previous poll. Those who think the country “is not changing at all” represent 24% of the respondents, six percent drop compared to July 2019.

The poll also shows that 59% of those surveyed say Georgia is not a democracy now, making it the worst figure since 2010. 33% of the respondents, however, say that Georgia is a democracy.

Performance of institutions and politicians

According to the survey, 64% of the respondents rate government performance as “bad,” 15% increase compared to March 2018. Those who rate government performance as “good” represent 30% of the respondents, 15% drop compared to March 2018.

Institutions with the highest performance ranking are Georgian army – 52% (53% in July 2019) and Georgian Orthodox Church – 50% (64% in July 2019). Georgian police ranks at 43%, with 35% rating it as average and 19% – as “bad” or “very bad.”

The respondents named the Courts (45%) and the Parliament (57%) as the lowest performing national institutions. They enjoy 10% and 9% of positive evaluations, respectively.

The Georgian Orthodox Church, that ranked highest in polls for a decade, experienced 14% drop in its performance assessed as “good” compared to July 2019.

Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Education and Ministry of Defense are seen as top performing ministries, assessed positively by 32%, 23% and 23%, respectively. Their performances are viewed as bad/very bad by 27%, 30% and 28%, respectively.

Ministry of Economy and Ministry of Finance got lowest positive assessments by 10% and 8%, respectively. 42% see Ministry of Economy’s performance as bad/very bad, while the number stands at 38% for Ministry of Finance.

For nearly all ministries, compared to March 2018 poll, the share of respondents viewing their performances as “bad” has increased.

NDI senior director Laura Thornton said “it is alarming to see such low public approval of democratic institutions, and it does not bode well for the country’s future growth and stability,” adding that “it is incumbent upon all political leaders, but particularly those in power, to rebuild the public’s trust in the country’s governance and ensure the legitimacy of the upcoming election process, which is currently under question given the failure to adopt promised election system reform.”

In respect to performance of leaders, Mayor of Tbilisi Kakha Kaladze tops the ranking with 44% (asked in Tbilisi only), followed by Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia – 21%, Speaker Talakvadze – 13%. The number for President Salome Zurabishvili stands at 9%. The latter’s performance is seen as bad by 54%, while for Speaker Talakvadze the number stands at 36%, for PM Gakharia – 34% and Mayor Kaladze at 22%.

Party Support and future vote

According to the survey, Georgian Dream–Democratic Georgia (GD) enjoys the strongest public support with 19% saying GD is “the party is closest” to them. Ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili’s United National Movement (UNM) enjoys 13% of support, European Georgia – Free Democrats – 7%, Labor Party – 6%, Alliance of Patriots – 5%.

20% of the respondents say “No Party” is closest to them, 14% refused to answer, while 6% responded “don’t know.”

Responding to the question “if parliamentary elections were held tomorrow, would you say you are decided or undecided about how you would vote?” 56% say they are undecided, 39% is decided, while 3% does not know. The poll also found that 65% would be “likely voters” and 35% would be “likely abstainers” if the elections were held tomorrow.

Asked which party they would vote for if parliamentary elections were held tomorrow, 20% says they would vote for GD, 13% would vote for UNM, 8% – European Georgia 0 Free Democrats, 5% – Labor Party, 4% – Alliance of Patriots. In this respect, 14% refused to answer, 14% said “no party” and 12% says they “don’t know.”

The latter question was asked with a new method. New method (split sample) means that 1. Respondents were given the tablet computer; they selected the answer on their own. 2. Show card included parties with at least 1 percent support in previous poll

Asked how “the tone and nature of political debate in this country” changed since 2012, 14% says it “has become more positive,” 30% thinks it “has not changed much”, 45% says it “has become negative. 9% says they do not know, 2% refused to answer.

EU and NATO support

The number of respondents who support Georgian government’s stated goal to join the European Union (EU) increased to 82% from 78% in July 2019. (83% in December 2018; 74% in February 2012). 74% approve government’s stated goal to join the NATO, 3% increase from July 2019.

Sources of Information

For 69% of the respondents TV is the first source of information for receiving the news about Georgian politics and current events, while Internet/Facebook is named as the first source by 24%. For 25% the latter is the second source.  In the capital city of Tbilisi, TV is the first source of information for 56%, while internet/Facebook is named by 37%. They are named as second source by 22% and 27% respectively.

6% of the respondents “completely trust” Georgian media, while 66% has “somewhat trust” in it. 13% “somewhat distrust” it, while 10% says they “completely distrust” Georgian media. TV Imedi is named as the most trusted TV channel by 30% (32% in April 2019), while newly kicked off Mtavari Arkhi TV founded by former Rustavi 2 TV staff enjoys 18% of trust. 12% said they trust Rustavi 2 (28% in April 2019). TV Pirveli is most trusted among 5% of respondents, while the number stands at 3% for Georgian Public Broadcaster.

Current Events

The poll found out that 71% of respondents have heard of the selection of Supreme Court judges. Out of those 71% 17% said the process was going “good,” 49% assessed it “bad,” 33% do not know.

In regards with June 20 events, 45% hold government “primarily responsible” (43% in July 2019), opposition – 12% (7% in July 2019), UNM – 5% (8% in July 2019), Giorgi Gakharia, then Interior Minister – 4% (9% in July 2019). 10% said “everyone is equally responsible” (14% in July 2019).

61% said “actions taken against civilians [of June 20 events’ participants] by the government” were “too harsh,” 15% said they were “appropriate.” In respect to “actions taken against law enforcement agents by the government,” the respondents say they were appropriate – 18%, too mild – 29%, too harsh – 28%, 24% – does not know.

59% of respondents were aware of the Parliament’s November 14 downvoting of the constitutional amendment that would transfer the country to fully proportional system from 2020 instead of 2024. Out of those 59%, 70% views Parliament’s decision not to support the amendment to electoral system “negatively,” while 16% assesses Parliament’s decision “positively.”

On November 27, 2019 the leader of the ruling Georgian Dream party Bidzina Ivanishvili said “the reputation of the U.S. founded institutions such as NDI and IRI” is “being devalued” by the public opinion polls they publish. Ivanishvili said that “for years now the polls are being published. These are published by very serious organizations of our strategic partner [the U.S.]. And they no longer have public confidence, are often met with [ironic] smile.”

This post is also available in: ქართული (Georgian) Русский (Russian)

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