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NDI survey reveals public sentiment in light of upcoming elections

By Ernest Petrosyan
Wednesday, July 11
Unemployment, territorial integrity, and affordable healthcare remain among the top concerns of Georgian citizen. Meanwhile, issues related to inflation and rising prices are not as pressing, said Luis Navarro, NDI Country Director, while presenting the survey entitled “Public Attitudes in Georgia” on June 10.

The survey data reflected the responses of 6,299 people countrywide who NDI conducted face-to-face interviews with. The surveys covered both urban and rural areas from June 4 – 22. According to the NDI survey, the average margin of error did not exceed +/- 2%.

The survey reveals that 58%, 33% and 33% of those surveyed mentioned jobs, territorial integrity, and affordable healthcare among their top three priorities. Among the top four issues nationwide, people name human rights, the relationship with Russia, NATO integration and freedom of speech as priorities. Asked about the meaning of democracy, people responded with freedom of speech, media and different viewpoints, equality before the law, prosecution of justice, human rights and fair elections. The survey reveals that 73% of questioned are going to vote in October.

Public attitudes concerning democracy have become slightly more skeptical in comparison to previous poll results conducted in February. To the question “Is there democracy in Georgia now?” – 43% of respondents provided a negative answer. 38% agreed that there is democracy in Georgia, 18% said they did not know. In comparison, in February 34% claimed that there was no democracy in Georgia.

Significant part of the survey was dedicated to Bidzina Ivanishvili’s political activity and citizenship. 71% of respondents disapprove of the revocation of Ivanishvili’s citizenship; 76% of the questioned are aware that Ivanishvili attempted to reinstate his Georgian citizenship; 61% are aware that Ivanishvili’s application for Georgian citizenship was rejected by the Civil Registry and 63% disapprove Civil Registry’s decision.

The survey included the question of whether the public will support Ivanishvili’s call for street rallies in case the upcoming elections are falsified, where 27 % approved and 53% disapproved. The abovementioned question triggered a negative response among many in the media, and with analysts and political figures.

Analyst Kakha Kakhishvili opines there is an idea created about Ivanishvili’s intentions to launch street rallies. “Where did they get this trend– that Ivanishvili will rally if elections are falsified? Why wasn’t there a similar question about whether people will stage rallies if the United National Movement looses the elections, or if Burjanadze loses the elections,” Kakhishvili said. According to him, it is an attempt to install the idea, both in and outside the country, that Ivanishvili will lose the elections and will move to street protests, meanwhile excluding the possibility of aUNM loss.

As for the country’s foreign policy, 44% see the real threat as being Russia, 29% agree that Russia is a threat to Georgia, but it is exaggerated. However 87% are dissatisfied with the current Russian-Georgian relations. The majority of questioned still approve of Georgia’s integration in EU and NATO.

36% of those questioned against 33% disapprove of the possibility of President Saakashvili’s political activity as a prime minister after the expiration of his second term.

According to Navarro, the survey also showed that the main barrier to conducting free and fair elections is vote bribery, which replaced voters’ list accuracy.

Asked why the survey did not include the recent actions of the State Audit Agency, Navarro explained that the questionnaire had been elaborated prior to the events related to the State Audit Agency, promising they will be included in the next survey which will be held prior the elections. Navarro also said that the population is more informed in the capital and less informed in the regions about the state audit agency.

The NDI Director also said they the next survey will also include issues about appointing Merabishvili as a PM and the new “Must Carry” legislation.

According to Navarro, NDI will publish a survey on political party polls next week.