A new public opinion poll published by the International Republican Institute reveals that Georgians are overwhelmingly satisfied with the government’s overall response to COVID-19 (41% very satisfied, 38% somewhat satisfied, 13% somewhat unsatisfied, 7% very unsatisfied), but remain concerned with the state of the economy in the country, especially in light of coronavirus.
Pandemic and its Economic Impact
Assessing the change of economic situation of their households since the pandemic outbreak, a quarter of respondents say it “worsened a lot,” 42% say it “worsened somewhat,” it stayed the same for 29%, while it improved for a mere 3%.
Speaking of the economic situation in the country since the COVID outbreak, 40% say it worsened a lot, 42% perceive it worsened somewhat, while 15% state it remained the same.
22% say their households’ economic situation currently is very bad, 43% see it as somewhat bad, 32% say it is somewhat good, while 2% regard it as very good.
Pandemic and Government Response
19% of respondents are very satisfied with the government’s efforts to address the economic consequences of COVID-19, 37% are somewhat satisfied, 18% are very unsatisfied, 24% are somewhat unsatisfied.
21% are very satisfied with the government’s social programs to mitigate COVID economic fallout, 37% are somewhat satisfied, 22% are somewhat unsatisfied, while 17% are very unsatisfied.
Evaluating the effectiveness of institutions amid pandemic, National Center for Disease Control (NCDC) tops the rank with 64% assessing it as very effective, while 30% say it worked somewhat effective. Health Ministry comes the second with 55% (very effective) and 36% (somewhat effective), Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia’s Office ranks third with 46% and 35%.
37% fully back Georgian Orthodox Church’s decision to hold rituals during the pandemic, 32% somewhat approve it, 14% and 8% say they somewhat or fully disapprove it, respectively; 9% don’t know/refuse to answer.
Nearly half of respondents – 47% – said the United States has been most helpful to Georgia amid COVID pandemic, with China coming the second with 6% and the European Union scoring third with 4%.
National Issues – Economy Looms Large
Economic issues remain the major concern for the majority of Georgians, with unemployment being the main problem for 46%, followed by the cost of living/high prices for 17%, poverty – 10%, economy in a general sense – 6% and COVID pandemic – 4%. Occupied territories was named by 3%.
According to 31% of respondents, unemployment is the most important problem facing their town/village; 10% named roads, 9% – economy, 9% – drinking water, 5% – ecology, 3% – poverty.
29% of respondents identify unemployment as a major issue facing their household, 17% name economy, 7% – low salaries, 5% – high prices.
9% of respondents say economic development is the biggest challenge for Georgia’s democratic development, followed by unemployment – 6%, return of lost territories – 5%, problems in education – 5%, freedom of speech -5%. 41% – don’t know/refuse to answer.
The poll also refers to the popular attitudes towards local government bodies.
13% of respondents are fully satisfied with their local Sakrebulo’s (city/municipality council) performance, 44% are somewhat satisfied, 20% are somewhat dissatisfied, 16% are fully dissatisfied.
Performance satisfaction figures for mayor’s offices are similar. 14% of respondents say they are satisfied, 44% are somewhat satisfied, 22% are somewhat dissatisfied, while 14% are fully dissatisfied.
In the capital city of Tbilisi, 29% name environment/pollution as the main problem Tbilisi Mayor Kakha Kaladze needs to address. 17% of Tbilisites identify illegal constructions as the second most pressing issue, followed by poor infrastructure, and public transport named by 15% each; traffic jams – 14% and unemployment – 9%.
Media and Sources of Information
Asked which TV station’s news/political information they trusted most, 40% say pro-governmental TV Imedi, 16% choose pro-opposition Mtavari Arkhi, 14% name Rustavi 2, 8% say TV Pirveli (first mentions, the respondents could give two answers).
85% of respondents use Georgian TV to receive the news about international affairs, 33% use social media, 10% use Georgian news sites, Russian TV stations, and Georgian print media were named by 4% each (respondents could give multiple responses).
21% of those surveyed say Georgian mass media sources are free to express various political views, 50% state media expresses its view somewhat free, 16% think that Georgian media is not very free to show various political views, while 7% say Georgian media is not free at all in this regard.
As for internet usage, 62% access the internet every day, while 25% never do.
Asked which social media sites they use most often, 94% of internet users say Facebook, 22% say Instagram, 5% name Twitter (respondents could provide three answers).