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NDI Poll Reflects EU Support, Disenchantment with Government

The new public opinion survey commissioned by the National Democratic Institute (NDI), a U.S. non-profit, found that the integration in the European Union remains the foreign policy objective of choice for a “vast majority” of Georgians but highlighted an increasing disenchantment with state’s democratic institutions. With 92% saying it is important for them to live in a democracy, 62% say Georgia is currently not a democratic state.

The survey, published on 16 September, was fielded by the Caucasus Resource Research Centers (CRRC) for NDI between July 14 and August 15 with the financial assistance of the UK’s good governance fund, and was carried out through nationwide mobile phone interviews (excluding occupied territories) with 2,104 respondents and has an average margin of error plus, minus 2%.

Support for the EU and Integration

The pollster found that despite a small dip, 75% of citizens support Georgia’s eventual membership in the EU. Notably, the share of people that have identified the lack of political will by the government as the key obstacle to joining the EU jumped from 11 to 25%, becoming the major obstacle named by the respondents. In previous polls, Georgia’s lack of territorial integrity was considered the main obstacle (36%).

Similarly, 69% of Georgians remain committed to NATO membership with the majority considering Russia and the occupied regions to be the main obstacle.

The poll emphasized that 62% of respondents were aware of the June 23 decision of the European Council to delay Georgia’s EU candidate status until necessary reforms are enacted and 56% blamed the Georgian government for not doing enough to secure the candidacy.

In that context, the poll showed that while meeting the EU candidacy criteria is important for 71% of citizens, only 32% expressed confidence that the government will actually meet those requirements.

“There is a wide public consensus on the importance of opposition and civil society organization inclusion, but only a third believe the government will include them in the process,” the study emphasized.

Deteriorating Situation and Disenchantment with Institutions

According to NDI, a record 62% of people have said that Georgia is not a democracy, while 56% stated that the country is not a good example to its neighbors.

Significantly, the pollster says that a majority of Georgians “do not think anyone – neither the government nor opposition parties – is acting in their best interest.”

In line with that belief, 56% of the population does not believe that Parliament is passing legislation on issues that matter to them, while 54% do not believe that an MP will take action if a citizen informs them about problems in their district. In fact, only a third believed that Parliament regularly communicates with the public.

According to the poll, polarization also remains a challenge, “as most citizens felt that democratic institutions are pushing people apart, instead of bringing them together.”

In that vein, Georgians pointed to multiple forces dividing their country, including politicians – 87%, the country’s leaders – 79%, Russia – 83%, the Georgian media – 82%, and the economic system – 80%, among others.

Future Outlook

Overall, Georgians “remain concerned about jobs, rising prices, and poverty, with one in three citizens saying they often struggled to buy food in the last 12 months.”

Per the poll, citizens also believed that the situation regarding crime and territorial integrity has worsened. Notably, public concerns are consistent across political affiliation, “signaling opportunities for political parties to work together to address the common needs of the Georgian citizens.”

Looking towards the future, the majority of Georgians did not have a positive outlook, with expectations for the next year including economic decline – 66%, the advancement of pro-Russian actors – 58%, Russian military aggression – 49%, and worsened relations with the EU – 44%.

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

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