TBILISI, DFWatch – There is a significant drop in support among Georgians for their country being integrated in NATO. In six months, the level of support has fallen from 70 to 62 percent.
Also the support for Georgia being integrated with the EU has dropped since February 2012: It is now at 70 percent, which is down four percentage points since February.
These are some of the findings in a new survey done by the National Democratic Institute (NDI).
The survey also shows that 87 percent are unhappy with the current state of relations with Russia. But not more than 44 percent thinks Russia poses a real threat to Georgia. 29 thinks Russia does pose a threat, but that the threat has been exaggerated. 12 percent thinks there is no threat from Russia.
Half of the Georgian population thinks that the country is developing in the right direction, but families’ situation has changed to the worse, democracy has worsened in the country and a majority do not support President Saakashvili becoming Prime Minister after his presidential term ends.
58 percent thinks creating jobs is the most important national issue. The three topics people think are important were the same three issues on which the new government program or election campaign is based.
Luis Navarro, chair of NDI’s Georgia office, presented parts of the results of the new survey on Tuesday, but as usual, the political ratings were not released.
NDI conducts surveys on society’s opinion several times a year. Although the parties’ ratings are not published, the results always become public through leaks. Because the results are made public indirectly, it opens for interpretation and this causes dissatisfaction. NDI refuses to publish this part of the survey because the organization says people are not interested in party ratings, and parties should get focused on issues which are a priority for people. But the fact is that this issue always becomes subject of debate and dissatisfaction, and the head of NDI Georgia therefore always ends up having to make excuses for the organization’s policy not to publish party ratings.
This time, Luis Navarro only mentioned that parties will be introduced of this part of the survey this week. But the parties are only introduced of information about their own parties and won’t know results of the other parties.
Also part of the survey results which were published are controversial. It shows that 49 percent of those questioned consider thinks Georgia is developing in mostly the right direction. Only four percent says that Georgia is definitely developing in the right direction. 14 percent thinks that Georgia is mostly developing in the wrong direction, while 9 percent thinks the country is definitely developing in the wrong direction. 10 percent thinks Georgia is not changing, while 12 percent didn’t answer.
Democracy, elections and media
To the question ‘Is there democracy in the country?”, 38 percent answered yes, there is; while 43 percent answered no.
This is a significant change compared to a survey conducted in February this year. Then, 49 percent answered positive, while 34 percent gave a negative answer to the same question.
The number of citizens, who want to participate in elections has increased. If there were parliamentary elections tomorrow, 75 percent of respondents would go to vote. This number is 11 percent more than it was in February and 24 percent more than it was in September, 2011. 25 percent now says that they wouldn’t participate in elections, if they were held tomorrow.
13 percent of the population thinks that the upcoming parliamentary elections will be falsified. 42 percent thinks the elections will be conducted more or less well, while 17 percent thinks that the elections will be partly falsified. Four percent is sure that the elections will be fully falsified. 23 percent say they don’t know.
In addition, the survey shows that those questioned do not agree to amendments to the election system.
67 percent says that they do not agree to reduce the age limit for a member of paliament to 21 year, while only 16 percent thinks it is normal to decrease age limit from 25 to 21.
To 59 percent of those questioned, democracy means freedom of speech, media and access to listen to diverse opinion. 36 percent think being equal under the law and to defend justice is in first place, while 30 percent thinks protection of human rights is most important.
Only five percent of those questioned receives information about politics and current event through the Internet. 88 percent get their news from TV, 2 percent from print media, 2 percent from neighbors and friends.
Compared to the results in February, the situation has worsened for families. In February, 26 percent said that their family is worse off now than in January 2008, now 28 percent says the same.
46 percent says that their family is in the same condition as it was in 2008.
The three most important priorities for those questioned are jobs, territorial integrity and accessible health care. Inflation and increasing prices got to the secondary places.
For 58 percent, the priority is creating jobs, for 33 percent territorial integrity, for 33 percent it is access to health care.
The unpopular decision to calculate the waste collection fee based on the electricity bill is still an important issue for the population (66 percent).
This number was the sane in February. The problem with electricity fees is followed by utility prices, 39 percent, and prices of transport, 28 percent. For the first time, school book prices appeared on the list of important issues. 15 percent answered that this is important.
The new prime minister Vano Merabishvili recently launched a four year government plan that is exactly about these issues.
Saakashvili and Ivanishvili
The survey shows that the population agrees with the government’s policy and thinks that it is developing in the right direction, but the majority of respondents do not want Mikheil Saakashvili to become Prime Minister after his term is overin 2013. 33 percent is positive to this possibility, 36 percent negative. 27 percent says that they do not know.
When it comes to his main competitor Bidzina Ivanishvili, the majority doesn’t agree with the government’s policy towards him.
71 percent doesn’t agree with revoking the opposition businessman’s Georgian citizenship, 8 percent agrees, 17 percent doesn’t know.
39 percent considers that Ivanishvili should apply for double citizenship, as the government is asked him to, 15 percent doesn’t think so, 42 percent doesn’t know. 4 percent don’t have answer.
If Bidzina Ivanisvhili does not get back his Georgian citizenship, 45 percent thinks that he should participate in elections by using a special exception that was recently written into law. 17 percent is against, 34 percent doesn’t know.
71 percent of questioned doesn’t know what specific political plans the Georgian Dream coalition leader has. 17 percent says yes.
According to the survey, 53 percent will not come to protest rallies if Ivanishvili asks them to, 27 percent says they will, 19 percent doesn’t know what will they do.
For the first time there is a question about a proposal from the Christian Democrats to ban same-sex marriage by amending the constitution.
89 percent of the population supports this proposal. 6 is against. But 59 percent didn’t know that such a proposal existed.
The survey was conducted from June 4 to June 22. 6 299 citizens were questioned all over Georgia.
The survey was financed by the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) and conducted by Caucasus Research Resources Center (CRRC).
Luis Navarro said NDI will conduct one more survey before the election.