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NDI speaks on possibility of a second vote

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Friday, May 9
The Georgian Dream coalition is the major political force in the country while the United National Movement remains as the main opposition. The coalition candidate for the Mayor’s post in Tbilisi enjoys the highest rating as well through the survey outcomes released by the National Democratic Institute on May 8.

The survey also reads that the most trustworthy person in Georgia in Georgia is the Patriarch Ilia II and the most liked politician, the Minister of Defense Irakli Alasania. The Prime Minister takes second place. The President's rating has declined, as well as the rating of the founder of the coalition Georgian Dream, Bidzina Ivanishvili.

Sixty percent of respondents say they would participate in local government elections. If local government elections were held tomorrow for Sakrebulos, among likely voters nationwide, the Georgian Dream coalition would lead with 48 percent, the UNM at 12 percent, while Nino Burjanadze-United Opposition coalition and the Labor Party are tied at 4 percent each. Thirty percent of respondents did not express an opinion and 2 percent said they would vote for other electoral subject.

For Tbilisi Sakrebulo elections, the Georgian Dream coalition leads with 43 percent to UNM with 9 percent; followed by Nino Burjanadze-United Opposition coalition with 8 percent and Labor Party with 3 percent. Thirty-three percent of respondents did not express a preference, while 4 percent chose other electoral subjects.

When asked who would you choose as the mayor of Tbilisi among likely voters, Georgian Dream coalition’s candidate Davit Narmania received 39 percent, UNM candidate Nikoloz Melia received 10 percent, followed by Nino Burjanadze-United Opposition coalition candidate with 9 percent and 2 percent for the Labor Party candidate. On the same question, 36 percent of respondents did not express a choice and 3 percent chose other electoral subjects.

Eighty-five percent of respondents say it is important that there is a strong opposition party in the country. Fifty-one percent consider UNM as the strongest opposition party. However, most of UNM’s strength appears to be outside the capital.

Luis Navarro, NDI’s country director in Georgia stressed that despite the fact that the coalition is holding leading position, there is a great potential for run-off elections in the Tbilisi, Kutaisi, Rustavi, Gori and Zugdidi mayoral races.

The Georgian Dream coalition members state that they do not trust the NDI surveys. Vice-Speaker Kakha Kaladze reminded the survey conducted by the organization prior to the 2012 parliamentary elections. “Based on the survey coalition had 12%, when we received 65% of votes,” Kaladze said. Foreign Minister Maia Panjikidze admitted that she respects the organization. However, she does not trust the organization’s Tbilisi office. The majority excludes the second round of voting.

Member of the opposition UNM Levan Tarkhnishvili stated that the rating of UNM’s mayoral candidate in Tbilisi Nika Melia is increasing. He emphasized that the survey one more time proved the UNM as the most powerful opposition force in the country. Leader of the non-parliamentary Labour Party Shalva Natelashvili does not take the survey as reliable. Member of the Christian-Democrats Giorgi Akhvlediani stated that there will be a second tour in Tbilisi.

Analyst Vazha Beridze told The Messenger that there are certain doubts concerning the NDI surveys and in some points, the doubts are caused due to objective bases. “However, unlike the previous period when there was pressure on such organizations from the government’s side, the current survey might be close to reality as there is no pressure on them now,” Beridze said, noting that there is a need for objective public opinion polls in the country and new impartial organizations conducting the polls.

“As for the current ratings, I think that they are close to reality, and certain decrease for the coalition is caused due to various dissatisfaction in public. Concerning Alasania and Gharibashvili, I do not share the outcomes, I think that Gharibashvili enjoys a higher rating,” Beridze said.

The analyst stressed that the coalition should act sensibly and not push the ratings down more until the elections. “May 17 (International Day Against Homophobia) is coming close, there are some unsolved social economic problems and the coalition supporters might be less motivated to participate in the elections, when the UNM supporters will vote with all their strength. I do not wait for the second round in Tbilisi, and think that Narmania will win with 50-55%. However, much is dependent on developments up to the election day,” Beridze said.

According to NDI, research has been conducted over multiple waves. The funding for this wave was provided by the Swedish International Development and Cooperation Agency (SIDA). The survey covers the period March 26 – April 18, 2014. There are 3,942 completed interviews from all whole Georgia.