The National Democratic Institute (NDI), a U.S.-founded non-profit, released on March 23 a new public opinion survey, which shows Georgian respondents’ attitudes towards a wide range of issues, including the Government’s COVID-19 pandemic handling, economic plan, vaccination rollout, and perceptions on the Parliament’s activities.
Survey finds 44% of Georgians believing that the country is going in the wrong direction, a 6-point rise compared to the previous December 2020 survey. Those believing the country is heading in the right direction decreased from 32% to 25% in the same period, while 22% say Georgia is not changing at all.
The survey was fielded by the Caucasus Resource Research Centers (CRRC) for NDI between February 17 and 24, 2021 with the financial assistance of the UK Aid, and was carried out through nationwide mobile phone interviews (excluding occupied territories) with 2,024 respondents and has an average margin of error plus, minus 1.4%.
COVID-19 handling, vaccine skepticism
The Georgian public continues to assess the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic positively, with 68% of the respondents crediting the Government for “good” efforts (up from 60% in December 2020), while 27% believe the management to be “bad” (down from 33% in December). Only 4% of the interviewees said they don’t have an answer, also down by 3 points from the previous survey.
However, the respondents remain skeptical of vaccine rollout, as only 42% assess the government’s inoculation plan as “effective,” while 30% and 28% find it “ineffective” and do not know the answer, respectively.
Noteworthy that 53% of the interviewees say they will not get vaccinated (up from 41% in December), while only 35% say they will receive the jab (down from 41% in December), and 12% do not know the answer. Men are more likely to vaccinate than women, while Tbilisites are relatively less hesitant than the rest of the urban and rural population.
Of those reluctant to receive the vaccine, 48% cite distrust in the quality of the shot, while 20% say they can overcome the pandemic without inoculation, and 10% argue they will not be able to receive the jab because of health-related issues. 6% and 5% of the respondents say that “vaccination has alternative goals” and that they are “generally against” the process, respectively.
74% of the respondents say they trust medical professionals outside National Center for Disease Control (NCDC) on information about the COVID-19 vaccine, while 68% trust the NCDC, 62% – the government, 56% – the media, 47% – religious leaders/church, 46% – the local government and 28% – the NGOs.
Pandemic-related economic downturn
The amount of the interviewees employed full or part-time remains unchanged at 29% from December 2020, while 22% of the respondents say they are unemployed (down from 24% in December) and 15% say they are self-employed (up from 14% in December). Since the start of the pandemic, 13% of the population reports job loss, and 12% report income reduction, while 43% say they were unemployed before and remain unemployed now as well. 27% report no job loss or salary decrease, while 3% say they lost a job and started another one. 1% of the interviewees state they were unemployed before the COVID-19 pandemic and are employed now.
The public is split in assessing the government’s economic plan to tackle the pandemic-related economic downturn, as 50% of the respondents say it is “effective,” while 37% evaluate the efforts as “ineffective” and 13% do not know the answer. 40% of the respondents say someone in their household received financial aid from the government (down from 43% in August 2020), while 60% say they did not (up from 57% in August). Of those that received the benefits, 48% say it was sufficient and 52% say it was not.
Attitudes towards the Parliament
14% of the respondents see the Parliament’s performance as “good” (down from 15% in December 2020), as opposed to 36% seeing it as “bad” (up from 34% in December). 38% find its performance “average” (up from 36% in December), while 11% do not know the answer (down from 13% in December).
As for priority concerns, the economy remains at the top, with 79% of the interviewees citing it as the issue the legislature should focus on in the upcoming year. 34% also name healthcare, while 22% and 16% name education and territorial integrity as key matters. Noteworthy more Georgian women prioritize healthcare and education than men.
The survey finds a lack of public confidence in the Parliament, as 54% say they do not believe the MPs will take into account “opinions of people” like them, and 55% say lawmakers “only serve their own interests.” 39% of the interviewees also say they do not wish to engage with the Parliament in any form of communication.
When asked “which political party is closest to you?” 40% say none, while 14% refuse to answer and 8% do not know. Meanwhile, 23% name the Georgian Dream, 7% answer the United National Movement and another 7% say other parties.