Back Monday | 27 October, 2008
World Press Freedom | Caucasus does badly!
Yet another index, and one with little happy news. How does world press freedom look? Reporters Without Borders, an advocacy group founded in 1985 ("investigate, expose, support"), has just released an international ranking. A total of 173 countries are ranked, and the Caucasus is in the bottom third.
Armenia does best, ranked at 102, but is also down sharply from last year, following the state of emergency. Armenia is behind Ukraine (87) and Moldova (98). Armenia shares its place with Turkey, which with restrictions on various topics has a curtailed public space.
Georgia, also down sharply, is ranked at 120, behind Sierra Leone, Indonesia and other troubled countries, but still ahead of Kazakhstan (125) and Russia (141). The press release notes the state of emergency imposed in late 2007, and that several journalists became victims of the recent conflict.
Azerbaijan is ranked at 150, following Swaziland, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and extraterritorial Israel, presumably the occupied territories. However, Azerbaijan is ahead of Zimbabwe (151), Belarus (154), Uzbekistan (172) and North Korea (173). Arguably, Azerbaijan should hope to move out of this company (where, as the report says, being a journalist "is a high risk exercise involving endless frustration and constant police and judicial harassment") and try to place itself closer to, say, Kuwait (61) or the United Arab Emirates (69), countries that build easy legitimacy through oil wealth.
But what exactly does the index measure? The website provides an overview over the methodology. The index is based on a survey with 49 questions, reflecting distinct criteria, and is available online. Attention is given to "every kind of violation directly affecting journalists (such as murders, imprisonment, physical attacks and threats) and news media (censorship, confiscation of newspaper issues, searches and harassment)." It also looks at whether those that violate press freedoms enjoy impunity. Moreover, it looks at legislation and the degree of self-censorship. Certainly, that's an important component: one friend, moderating a TV talk show found the producers interrupting through his earpiece, instructing him not to touch on certain topics.
While one has little reason to doubt that journalism is not in a happy state, and that unfortunately the rankings are broadly accurate, a little more detail on the methodology would have been useful. How are the different components weighted? To what extent, for example, was the sharp drop for Georgia explained by the recent conflict? Or did the index finally catch on more to problems of self-censorship? Or did it reflect, in particular, the violent closure of Imedi? Providing such detail would be helpful, since it could stimulate public debate, focusing on particular shortcomings.
To take a closer look, go to the website of Reporters Without Borders.
14.09.2015 | Monday
Over the last month, a number of scandals have emerged on the Georgian media landscape. On August 7th, Rustavi 2, a national television station often associated with the previously governing United National Movement (UNM), had its assets frozen in response to Kibar Khalvashi’s claim that he was wrongfully denied his ownership rights of the station during the UNM’s governance. More recently, cancellation of two political talk shows was announced on Imedi TV, another national station, owned by Badri Patarkatsishvili’s family.
27.04.2015 | Monday
This blog post provides a snapshot of which issues Georgians think NGOs actually address and compares it with what Georgians think NGOs should be doing more of.
20.04.2015 | Monday
While many Georgians do not know if a large number of organizations are or are not NGOs, many also recognize this fact by saying that they have either never heard of or do not know if an institution is or is not an NGO.
06.02.2015 | Friday
This blog post has shown that those that recently participated in public meetings or rallies, as well as more educated and wealthy Georgians perceive peaceful demonstrations as more efficacious in affecting government decision-making, compared to those who have not recently participated in meetings or rallies, are less educated and are poorer.
27.09.2012 | Thursday Since 2011, CRRC has been involved in the Memory, Youth, Political Legacy, and Civic Engagement (MYPLACE), a four-year project funded by the European Commission. The project aims at exploring young people’s social participation in Georgia influenced by historical contexts of totalitarianism and populism in Europe. Among others, the objectives of the MYPLACE project include (1) conceptualization of...
22.05.2016 | Sunday
The blog analyzes if the special precinct really mattered for the Sagarejo by-elections or wether it was the ethnic voting patterns, which explain the differences.
10.03.2014 | Monday
On December 30, 2013 Davit Usupashivili, Chairman of the Parliament of Georgia, declared that Georgia’s top priority for the year was the signing of an Association Agreement with the EU. If signed, the association agreement will enable closer ties between Georgia and the EU.
19.01.2015 | Monday
Taxi drivers tell perhaps the most telling story of Georgia’s economic transition. They often complain that the transition made their high social status useless, thus pushing them into taxi driving. This often heard and mocked complaint highlights the contrast between what is expected from and what is delivered by the labor market. This blog post shows that the taxi drivers are not entirely wrong.
22.01.2015 | Thursday This blog post examines how social status is associated with individual and household well-being
14.01.2015 | Wednesday
Today, less than democratic regimes face a serious dilemma – how do you buy votes to win an election without becoming an international pariah. Unfortunately for a society and fortunately for an autocrat, the wheels of power and administrative resources an incumbent regime wields provide ample opportunity to manipulate electoral outcomes through what are otherwise legitimate activities related to state spending and coercion.
22.02.2013 | Friday
The Georgian parliamentary elections in October 2012 attracted much international interest and ushered in an important turn in Georgian politics. In 2012 CRRC conducted four waves of a Survey on Political Attitudes in Georgia for the National Democratic Institute (NDI) (funded by the Swedish International development Cooperation Agency-SIDA) in order to track changes in public opinion associated with these major political events.
03.04.2014 | Thursday Note: This blog is re-posted from the MYPLACE project's blog. The original MYPLACE blog can be found here.
Claims to 2000 or even 3000 years of nationhood are not difficult to find in Georgia as has been amply documented (see Pelkmans 2006, Suny 1994, Rayfield 2013). The former president Mikheil Saakashvili was even fond of using the earliest human skulls found outside of Africa, in Dmansi in Southern Georgia, as proof that Georgians were “ancient Europeans.”
16.06.2014 | Monday
Dustin Gilbreath, a Research Consultant at CRRC-Georgia, has written electoral notes on yesterday's municipal elections which were published on the web-magazine Liberali.The notes discuss the results of the elections, background and significance, changes to electoral legislation, the pre-electoral environment, capital candidates and campaigns, and outlook for the Georgian Dream Coalition and United National Movement. To read the electoral notes, please click here.
23.06.2014 | Monday
On June 15th Georgian voters headed to the polls in local elections. There were problems leading up to the elections as detailed in last week's electoral notes. At present, results show a significant portion of positions in local government going to Georgian Dream Coalition (GD) candidates, though a number of races will go into second rounds.
04.08.2014 | Monday
On July 28, 2014 charges were announced against the former Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili concerning the abuse of power. These charges make Saakashvili the highest public official from the former UNM government to be summoned by the prosecutor’s office to date.
22.09.2014 | Monday
Following 2012 parliamentary elections, attitudes toward Russia in Georgia shifted. While in 2011 51% of the population considered Russia the main enemy of the country, in 2012 only 35% reported the same. Moreover, the share of Georgians who named Russia as Georgia’s main friend increased by 5%. In a post on the CRRC-Georgia blog, this change was explained by a so-called “spiral of silence”.
22.02.2012 | Wednesday
We have previously worked on social capital, and this issue recently was taken up by the Caucasus Anylatical Digest. The issue discusses the concept of social capital and its relevance to the societies of the South Caucasus.
03.03.2011 | Thursday
In 2009, Counterpart International Armenia was given the rights by CIVICUS to use their methodology to conduct a public opinion survey and measure the Civil Society Index (CSI) in the Republic of Armenia. On February 22nd, Counterpart International Armenia presented the respective report.
13.06.2011 | Monday
We have previously highlighted the research on social capital that CRRC has undertaken with the generous support of USAID. As we said at the time, and have argued in subsequent presentations, social capital is a missing link in Georgia. Its absence impedes social, economic and political development.
01.07.2011 | Friday
In the spring of 2011, CRRC ran the Caucasus Barometer Report Writing competition and now we have an opportunity to present some of the results to you. The first report is written by one of the competition winners, Keti Khachidze, and addresses trust in the Georgian president. Here is a quick summary of her findings and analysis.
07.07.2011 | Thursday
We have previously mentioned our participation in MyPlace, a collaborative research project covering 16 countries, and financed by the EU under Framework Program 7. Their website is now up! What is it all about? To quote from the MyPlace website:
10.07.2012 | Tuesday Despite some international criticism on media freedom, nationwide survey data shows that Azerbaijanis seem to be generally satisfied with certain forms of national mass media—although with a few exceptions. The overall picture that emerges from the 2011 Caucasus Barometer in Azerbaijan is that 44% of the population thinks TV journalists inform the population well, 32% are neutral, and 16% say TV journalists do not inform the population well (7% don’t know).
25.01.2010 | Monday
What are the reasons for low public engagement in the South Caucasus? Why, despite the large number of non-government organizations, civil society remains weak in all three countries?
31.05.2012 | Thursday During the last 25 years Georgian capital has experienced a diverse history of political meetings in its central areas including peaceful demonstrations, rallies with radical political demands, “tent towns” and so forth. The higher the attendance, the more legitimate the protests are often seen to be. As a result, the figures themselves usually are contested, sometimes in significant controversy.
10.02.2010 | Wednesday
Wondering what Georgians do in their free time? Do they read, listen to music, go to cinemas and theatres, stay at home and spend time with their families, watch TV, or just sleep?
12.02.2010 | Friday
It is often stated that life in a city is fundamentally different from that in rural areas. In the West, village life is said to be more intimate, and its inhabitants more caring about their peers, with strong ties between neighbors and family members. Can this also be said in the South Caucasus? After all, family relations and friendships are supposed to be strong in countries like Georgia. Do these ties reach into the cities, erasing the difference between strong social networks in rural areas and the more anonymous, independent urban setting?
02.07.2010 | Friday
Freedom House has just released its Nations in Transit report for the year 2010. The report attempts to quantify democratic development in Central European and Eurasian states by observing 8 separate factors – for instance, Electoral Process and National Democratic Governance - which affect the level of democracy in a given country. Each category is graded on a score of 1 to 7, with 1 representing the highest level of democratic progress, and 7 representing the lowest. Much of the media attention has typically focused on Russia.
12.04.2012 | Thursday In September 2011, CRRC on behalf of Eurasia Partnership Foundation and EWMI G-PAC conducted a nationally representative survey on Volunteerism and Civic Participation in Georgia. Georgians were asked how often they get together and discuss private problems and politics with their friends and relatives (who do not live in their houses).
05.10.2010 | Tuesday
The recently updated database of the World Governance Indicators (WGI) shows an improvement in Armenia’s ranking in political stability, fight against corruption, government effectiveness and regulatory quality. A project of World Bank and Brookings Institution, WGI provides governance ranking of over 200 countries since 1996 on six indicators: Voice of Accountability, Political Stability and Absence of Violence, Government Effectiveness, Regulatory Quality, Rule of Law and Control of Corruption.
19.11.2010 | Friday
Ambassador Dieter Boden, a distinguished German diplomat who has served both as German Ambassador to the OSCE as well as UN Special Representative to the Secretary General, spoke at the Europe House about conflict resolution in the disputed territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
01.02.2008 | Friday
The alpha version of our Data Initiative data set, broad household data, covering lots of household data, but also political attitudes, social development, some health, education, migration, and social capital questions (and more) is online now. We interviewed more than 8000 people, so this really is the single largest dataset that is available on developments across the South Caucasus.
22.02.2008 | Friday
Many of our readers know of both our quibbles with indexes, but also our steadfastness when it comes to posting about them. The Bertelsmann Foundation released its trademark index, the Bertelsmann Transformation Index (BTI) (PDF), which according to its producers, is "the global ranking of the quality of democracy, the market economy and political leadership in 125 developing and transformation countries."
10.03.2008 | Monday
Admittedly we forgot to post this earlier, but we believe it is even more important with the upcoming elections in Georgia.
11.04.2008 | Friday
A previous blog entry on Millennium Challenge Corporation’s Meta-Index, as you may recall, presented Georgia’s performance. For those who do not know, Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) uses data from the research of various organizations such as the IFC, the World Bank Institute, UNESCO, Freedom House and others. Millennium Challenge Corporation recently released an assessment through its annual scorecard, which has three main policy categories: Ruling Justly, Investing in People, and Economic Freedom.
21.05.2008 | Wednesday
With today's elections in Georgia, various themes come to mind. Certainly, elections have come a long way: by now, the Georgian government employs a series of highly qualified consultants, including Greenberg Quinlan Rosner of Clinton-fame, plus a Brussels-based PR firm, as well as working with experienced teams from the Baltics. This, then, is no longer the game of the 1990s, or 2003. Election observers know that they in turn will be observed, and maybe that's how it should be.
12.06.2008 | Thursday
Yet another survey has been sent around as a PDF in Georgia. The survey attempted to measure the postelection mood in Tbilisi. According to the information provided in the PDF, 503 respondents have been selected randomly and interviewed by telephone. According to the results 46.92% of respondents say they "fully disagree with the announced results of the 2008 parliamentary elections". 25,65% say they totally agree with the announced results. We have been asked to comment, and some of the things we have to say will sound pretty obvious.
03.07.2008 | Thursday
What is the average Armenian secondary school student’s competence in Maths and Science? Is Armenia doing fine, or is it time for the education policy makers to review the secondary school curricula. Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) proposes an answer to these questions. TIMSS is an international evaluation of the mathematics and science knowledge of fourth and eighth grade students around the world.
04.08.2008 | Monday
Women’s participation at all levels of elections in Georgia is diminishing. As the Caucasus Women’s Network (CWN)reports, women inGeorgia were less represented in terms of candidates in the last parliamentary elections than in any previous parliamentary elections inGeorgia’s democratic history. On the other hand, women’s low political participation in elected bodies belies women’s activeness in civil society institutions, where females appear to be very active.
05.09.2008 | Friday
Georgian IPResearch (first time we heard of them, actually) conducted a phone poll between Aug.25 and Sept.2. 450 respondents were questioned countrywide. While we have our strong reservations about these telephone polls (they are biased towards people with phones, picking up calls from strangers, and bored enough to chat), they may serve as a preliminary indication.
18.12.2007 | Tuesday With the election in Georgia approaching fast, polls are beginning to appear every week. Unfortunately, many of these polls are taken at face value. The reality is that at this point there is not a single pre-election poll that has demonstrated credibility. This does not ...
11.12.2007 | Tuesday The World Resources Institute, a global environmental think tank based in Washington DC, is providing maps that allow a visual comparison of data for the countries in the South Caucasus. Called "Funnel the Money", it seeks to chart development within countries, and also track allocation of resources from the central government by providing regional comparisons.
20.10.2008 | Monday
What's the level of engagement in the three countries of the South Caucasus? Are people involved? Are they staying abreast of what goes on? Again, our Data Initiative provides insight, since we asked people whether they had engaged in various activities over the last six months
13.11.2008 | Thursday
Indices are engaging and instructive, but some really baffle us. The World Economic Forum (WEF), the organisation that organises the annual high-profile Davos meetings, has come up with a gender index, and the Caucasus is featured. The index is intended to measure how the world is closing the gender gap in education, health, and political and economic participation. In principle, this is a great idea, since there are significant challenges and discrepancies (as our data itself shows).
22.11.2008 | Saturday
One of the most impressive recent survey efforts, measuring attitudes about different countries in transition, has been undertaken by EBRD. Called Life in Transition Survey (LiTS), this is an attempt to look at how 29 'transitioning' countries have developed following 1989. The survey tracks "public attitudes, well-being, and the impact of economic and political change".
28.11.2008 | Friday
What's the balance sheet of the Rose Revolution so far? There is agreement that there has been tremendous progress in some fields. The economy has grown, street-level corruption has evaporated, and in many other instances the state functions for the people.
05.12.2008 | Friday
In June Freedom House released its 2008 annual Nations in Transit Report covering January 1, 2007 through December 31, 2007. The Nations in Transit Report covers the democratic performance of the former Soviet Union, the former Soviet satellite states and the former Yugoslavia.
03.12.2007 | Monday With upcoming elections in Georgia, the attention is back on a theme that otherwise often gets neglected: what does the Georgian electorate want?
19.11.2007 | Monday With all the attention on Georgia, it may be interesting to revisit Georgia's most recent performance as seen by international organizations. As it happens, the Millennium Challenge Corporation offers a such an assessment through its annual scorecard, just released last week. This scorecard is a meta-index, drawing on data from the World Bank Institute, Freedom House, IFC, WHO, UNESCO and a few other organizations.
21.08.2007 | Tuesday The study and analysis of civil society and civic participation is a fundamental way of better understanding a region and its processes of development and democratization. Researcher Babken Babajanian has studied civil society and civic participation in post-Soviet Armenia.
21.11.2016 | Monday The results of the 2016 Parliamentary elections in Georgia reveal some interesting patterns about the representation of women and ethnic minorities in Georgian politics.
15.08.2017 | Tuesday Bidzina Ivanishvili resigned from the post of prime minister of Georgia on November 20th 2013, and in his own words, “left politics“. Speculation about his continued informal participation in the political decision-making process began even before he resigned and still continues. Some politicians think that Ivanishvili gives orders to the Georgian Dream party from behind-the-scenes, while others believe that he actually distanced himself from politics. Politicians, journalists and experts continue to discuss the situation. Meanwhile, a majority of Georgia’s population thinks that Bidzina Ivanishvili is still involved in the governing process and that his informal participation is unacceptable.
09.10.2017 | Monday In general people are primarily interested in their own lives, rather than in social or political events. In other words, social and political events will, most probably, be overshadowed by events in one’s personal life. CRRC’s 2015 Caucasus Barometer (CB) survey data provides more detailed insights on this. In this blog post, we compare answers to two CB questions: “When you get together with your close relatives and friends, how often do you discuss each other’s private problems?” and “When you get together with your friends and close relatives, how often do you discuss politics / current affairs?” in Armenia and Georgia.
06.11.2017 | Monday
Taking partly free voters seriously: autocratic response to voter preferences in Armenia and GeorgiaDo voters in less than democratic contexts matter or are elections simply facades used to create a veneer of democratic accountability for domestic and international actors? Within the Autocratic Response to Voter Preferences in Armenia and Georgia project, funded by Academic Swiss Caucasus Net, CRRC-Georgia and CRRC-Armenia aimed to help answer this question, at least for Georgia and Armenia. On October 27, Caucasus Survey published the results of the project in a special issue, available here.
25.12.2017 | Monday Stereotypes are an inseparable part of every society, and present in many parts of everyday life. Georgian society is no exception in this regard. For example, some professions like teaching are stereotypically thought of as “women’s professions” while others like being a soldier are considered “men’s professions”. The media is considered one of the strongest means through which stereotypes are strengthened or broken. In Georgia, TV is the most important media, given that according to CRRC/NDI data, 73% of the population of the country name television as their primary source of the information. In order to understand the dynamics around gender-based stereotypes on TV, CRRC-Georgia monitored the main evening news releases and political talk shows broadcast during prime time (from 18:00 to 00:00) on five national and three regional channels from September 11 to November 12, 2017 (Channel One of the Public Broadcaster, Adjara, Rustavi 2, Imedi, Maestro, Trialeti, Gurjaani, Odishi) with the support of the UN Joint Program for Gender Equality with support from UNDP Georgia and the Swedish government.
20.02.2018 | Tuesday On 13 February, the United States released its Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community. In it, the significance of Russian influence operations in Georgia were highlighted. Just eight days earlier, on 5 February, a coalition of Georgia’s leading non-governmental organisations made an official offer to support the Government of Georgia, the EU, and NATO in their efforts to counter anti-Western propaganda.
11.02.2019 | Monday Over the last decade, people in Georgia have reported rather low levels of trust toward NGOs. At the same time, when asked during surveys to assess specific aspects of NGO activities, the answers have usually been positive. This blog post is based on the findings of a survey on attitudes toward NGOs collected by CRRC-Georgia in fall, 2017 for the Georgian Civil Society Sustainability Initiative (CSSIGE). The first part of this blog post looks at the most up-to-date data on knowledge of NGOs in Georgia and reported levels of trust toward them. The second part explores the inconsistency between low trust toward NGOs in Georgia, on the one hand, and quite positive assessments of their activities, on the other hand.
18.02.2019 | Monday As discussed in the first part of this blog post, the results of CRRC-Georgia’s survey conducted for the Georgian Civil Society Sustainability Initiative (CSSIGE) project in fall 2017 confirmed that both knowledge about NGOs and trust toward them is quite low in Georgia. This blog post looks at the inconsistency between low trust toward NGOs, on the one hand, and quite positive assessments of their activities, on the other hand.
30.04.2019 | Tuesday After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Georgia adopted western-style democratic institutions. They have never functioned in a fully democratic manner, fluctuating between more liberal and authoritarian tendencies. That is, Georgia is and has been a hybrid regime.
But what do people want?
But what do people want?
15.07.2019 | Monday The most recent NDI polling showed a decline in the direction the country was heading. Though not the direct cause by any means, the growing sense that Georgia is going in the wrong direction was likely an enabling factor for the protests that erupted in June and have continued through July in Tbilisi. The CRRC-NDI survey has tracked the direction people think the country is headed over the last decade. While numerous factors affect people’s perceptions of where the country is going, a number of events including elections and the devaluation of the Georgian Lari against the US Dollar appear to show up in CRRC-Georgia and the National Democratic Institute’s data. This blog provides an overview of how views of the direction the country is headed in have changed over time.
26.08.2019 | Monday How citizens evaluate the performance of the state is often a reasonable proxy for its performance. In Georgia, evaluations of public institutions are mixed. While a number of social and demographic variables are associated with people’s perceptions of state performance, so too are people’s attitudes towards political parties and politicians. This shows once again how politics is personalized in Georgia.
17.09.2019 | Tuesday The last year has seen a number of conversations about polarization in Georgia. The President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, even commented on the issue in his Batumi speech. One of the components of polarization, though not the sole factor, is division in society over actors, issues, and institutions.
While many things could divide the public, what do the people think and which groups report more and fewer sources of division? The April 2019 NDI-CRRC poll suggests that there are fewer perceived reasons for division in rural areas and among ethnic minorities.
While many things could divide the public, what do the people think and which groups report more and fewer sources of division? The April 2019 NDI-CRRC poll suggests that there are fewer perceived reasons for division in rural areas and among ethnic minorities.
11.11.2019 | Monday The outlook in Georgia continues to be increasingly pessimistic, with more people reporting that the country is heading in the wrong direction. Similarly, performance assessments of government institutions have been on the decline in recent years. As recent CRRC analyses have highlighted, party identification, attitudes towards individual politicians, ethnicity, and Georgian language proficiency among ethnic minorities are associated with attitudes towards government. Analysis of the July 2019 CRRC and NDI survey suggests that working for the state is also associated with performance assessments. However, government employees in poor households and those in Tbilisi rate government performance significantly worse.