TBILISI, DFWatch–Georgians think jobs, higher prices and poverty are the three most important issues, according to a new opinion poll published by the National Democratic Institute (NDI) on Monday.
Earlier, territorial integrity was the most important issue, but now for the first time economic and social issues are at the top of people’s concerns, while territorial integrity is in fourth place with 27 percent.
66 percent of the questioned say that the most important national issue is jobs, 43 percent say price increase and inflation, while 39 percent say poverty. Next are territorial integrity, pensions, accessible healthcare, relations with Russia and education.
Laura Thornton, Director of NDI in Georgia, said this doesn’t mean that people in Georgia don’t care about territorial integrity. But representatives of the former government tell DF Watch that it is result of the ‘incapable actions’ of the current government.
“On the one hand, this government hasn’t been able to do anything to create economic growth, which has left people in difficult social conditions, which of course moves economic and social issues to the top. On the other hand, there is a new government policy toward Russia,” Zurab Japaridze, MP for the National Movement, tells DF Watch.
The former ruling party, named as the strongest opposition party by those questioned, is frequently accusing the government of conducting a weak economic policy, as well as an incorrect policy toward Russia and a poor foreign policy in general.
According to the poll, a majority of people think that government doesn’t make changes that are important to them – 50 percent – while 45 percent say the government is making changes which matter most for them.
If the parliamentary opposition was in government, would they make changes which would matter to the questioned – 51 percent says no, 22 percent says yes.
The national health insurance program is the most popular thing the current government has done for people, according to the poll.
Another part of the poll is about democratic issues. Poll results show that the majority of people think Georgia is a democratic country. 43 percent say citizens are allowed to express their opinion freely.
When it comes to foreign policy, most of the interviewees see it is unacceptable if Georgia joins the Russia-led Eurasian Union, but there is increasing support for joining the union: 31 percent want Georgia to join, 41 percent are against it, the rest didn’t answer or said they don’t know.
Joining NATO, on the other hand, is supported by 65 percent, while 20 percent are against this.
68 percent like the fact that Georgia signed an association agreement with the EU last year, while 16 percent don’t like it.
When asked whether they agree that it will benefit the country to join EU and NATO on the one hand, or closer relations with Russia on the other, about half agree with the first alternative (25% agree strongly and 24% agree), while a third would prefer closer relations with Russia (11% strongly, 15% agree).
6 percent don’t agree with either statement, 17 percent say they don’t know, while one percent didn’t answer.
The poll was conducted from March 27 to April 19. 4,360 people in Georgia were interviewed.
As usual, NDI first only published the part about social issues, while the political party ratings will be published on Wednesday.
Read the whole report here.