TBILISI, DFWatch – Georgians might elect political newcomer Bidzina Ivanishvili if given the option, but the first polls after he launched his campaign differ significantly.

Two polls disagree over newcomer Bidzina Ivanishvili’s chances in the presidential competition. One shows him second, another shows he will trounce the ruling party’s most likely candidate 32 to 13 per cent. But both polls place the ruling National Movement party slightly ahead of newcomer Bidzina Ivanishvili in the race to fill the seats in the new parliament in less than a year.

One of them was done by Gallup and IPM for the International Republican Institute (IRI) and shows that president Mikheil Saakashvili’s National Movement has the most support and that their candidate for president would win, no matter who gets nominated.

Another poll, done by the Institute of Social Studies and Analysis (ISSA), shows Ivanishvili winning decisively against the most likely ruling party candidate for next president, Gigi Ugulava.

It also indicates that Georgians have a generally more favorable impression of Ivanishvili’s movement than the ruling party, when scoring political parties along a positive and negative scale. A majority also think Ivanishvili would change the country to the better by entering politics. On the other hand, their poll indicates that Saakashvili’s party would win if there was parliamentary election, with Ivanishvili running, with 36 % against 32 %.

According Georgian media, the IRI survey indicates that only three political parties are currently above the 5% threshold in the parliament elections: The National Movement, Bidzina Ivanishvili’s political bloc and the Christian Democratic Movement.

To the question ‘If there had been presidential elections tomorrow, which party would you vote for?’ the answers were: National Movement candidate – 32%, Bidzina Ivanishvili – 27%, Giorgi Targamadze – 10%, Shalva Natelashvili 2% and Irakli Alasania 2%.

Another question was: ‘Who is the most trusted opposition leader?’ – The answers are: Giorgi Targamadze – 22%; Bidzina Ivanishvili – 21%, Shalva Natelashvili – 4%, Irakli Alasania 3%.

These results, published by news agencies, were later Wednesday contradicted in news reports on pro-government TV channels. In their habitual high drama style, they announced triumphantly that the National Movement has a 42 to 18 per cent lead over Bidzina Ivanishvili’s still hypothetical party, with the Christian Democrats trailing at 8%.

Saakashvili leads with 74% among the politicians, according to these channels.

Despite the fact that the survey results are non-official, Davit Bakradze, Georgian speaker of parliament, in a comment remarked that ‘the circumstance is important that in those ratings even the hypothetic candidate of the National Movement overcomes the real opposition candidates.’

Bakradze states that everyone should understand the fact that in this part of the survey it’s about the hypothetic candidate, which never has the same kind of support as a specific candidate. But it’s quite natural and understandable that even such candidate for the National Movement overcomes all the opposition candidates, he claimed.

Most of the opposition considers the IRI results unreliable, and point to another survey, carried out by ISSA. It shows that Bidzina Ivanishvili would trounce likely ruling party candidate Gigi Ugulava 32 against 13 per cent if the two were to run for president.

75.7% of the respondents think it’s only possible to have real change in the current government through elections. 52.8% say that the appearance of Ivanishvili as a new force in politics will change the situation in the country for better. 16.1% thinks that Ivanishvili coming to powers won’t change the current situation in the country. 8% thinks that the situation will get even worse if he gets power; and for 23% it’s difficult to answer to this question.

The IRI has as customary not published the complete survey results, only made select parts of them available to Georgia media. It was conducted from October 27 to November 11. Four thousand respondents over 18 were questioned.

“The survey includes several topics; including politics, economy, NATO, EU. We will present the survey only to the parties and it will be published for media in about two weeks by the head office in Washington,” the IRI announced.