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Economy continues to top Georgians’ list of primary concerns

By Tea Mariamidze
Tuesday, January 17
Poll results released on January 16 by the National Democratic Institute (NDI) of the United States and CRRC Georgia reveal that economic anxieties continue to top Georgians’ list of primary concerns.

The survey was conducted from November 4 to December 4 2016, and in total 3141 respondents were interviewed.

The polls highlighted that the top five issues Georgians care the most about have not changed since 2009. These include unemployment, rising prices and inflation, poverty, territorial integrity and pensions.

As in previous polls, the vast majority of Georgians consider themselves unemployed (66 percent), and only a third feel their economic situation will improve. Few (17 percent) believe their household is better off since 2012, while 82 percent report that they are the same or worse off.

“In multiple polls for years now, Georgians have consistently expressed concern about their economic well-being, and they are not feeling any relief or improvement,” says Laura Thornton, NDI Senior Director.

“With the elections completed, the new government has a clear mandate to start responding and focus their attention and resources on addressing employment and the poor state of the country’s economic security,” she stressed at the presentation of the poll results.

The report revealed that support for the European Union (EU) and NATO remains high, with 72 percent of Georgians approving of the country’s goal to join the EU and 61 percent to join NATO.

However, exceptions remain in minority settlements in which less than half support these goals. Age is also a factor, with support ratings more than 15 percent higher among younger respondents than older ones.

The results also revealed that 27 percent of respondents think the country is going in the wrong direction, while 32 percent approve of the path Georgia has taken.

As for Georgia’s foreign policy, 54 percent believes that the foreign policy should be pro-Western, however, Georgia should keep good relations with Russia. 18 percent said that foreign policy should be pro-Russian.

Moreover, 52 percent of respondents who live in Tbilisi believe the local government has not implemented any important changes, while 61 percent of Kutaisi respondents have the same opinion.

As for the City Councils (Sakrebulo), 23 percent of the interviewed people disapprove of the work of Sakrebulos, while 27 percent are not satisfied with the work of the City Halls.

With regards to women’s political participation, the majority of respondents believe that 30 percent of MPs should be women, while 60 percent support the introduction of a mandatory gender quota in the Parliament.

The NDI’s survey work is funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) and carried out by CRRC Georgia.

Irakli Abesadze, a member of the parliamentary minority, says the NDI poll revealed that society is in an “extremely” poor condition. He said the situation was caused by the ruling Georgian Dream (GD) party.

“Unfortunately, poverty, unemployment and rising prices remain the main problems in the country, which are the results of incompetence and the wrong economic policy of the government,” said Abesadze.