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Wednesday | 14 January, 2015

How to buy votes when you can’t buy votes

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. In this blog post the term autocrat is used descriptively rather than in an evaluative or normative sense i.e. in a manner synonymous to a ruler of a less than democratic regime.
 
 
Notably, almost all governments in the world hold some form of election. Even fully authoritarian regimes such as North Korea and Uzbekistan regularly hold elections after all. In hybrid regimes, which are neither fully authoritarian nor fully democratic (Armenia and Georgia among them), elections are often contested by multiple parties who see them as the legitimate means of gaining power. Political scientists have taken note and have come to call hybrid regimes which hold elections either electoral authoritarian or competitive authoritarian.
 
 
Elections in such regimes serve a number of purposes including legitimacy building on the international stage and enhancing stability at home. As Andreas Schedler has noted:


Electoral authoritarian regimes neither practice democracy nor resort regularly to naked repression. By organizing periodic elections they try to obtain at least a semblance of democratic legitimacy, hoping to satisfy external as well as internal actors. At the same time, by placing those elections under tight authoritarian controls they try to cement their continued hold on power. Their dream is to reap the fruits of electoral legitimacy without running the risks of democratic uncertainty. Balancing between electoral control and electoral credibility, they situate themselves in a nebulous zone of structural ambivalence.


This “nebulous zone of structural ambivalence” leads to elections which are neither clearly stolen, nor clearly free and democratic. Direct electoral fraud may damage a state and its leading bureaucrats’ reputations abroad, potentially lead to sanctions, civil unrest or even a revolution as occurred in Georgia in 2003. The presence of influential international organizations’ election monitoring missions increases the likelihood that the direct purchase of votes from the electorate, ballot box stuffing or other obvious violations of democratic norms will be publicized and punished in some form. Yet, the “democratic uncertainty” that accompanies fully free elections presents the possibility that an autocrat could lose their power. So, if an autocratic regime desires the benefits accompanying formal adherence to democratic rules, but simultaneously does not want to lose power or create instability domestically, it must find a means to illicitly secure votes without directly buying them.


Increasing social spending or creating employment, social benefit and similar programs is one way an autocrat can attempt to buy votes without directly buying them. Manipulating public spending in order to improve electoral outcomes was first termed a “political business cycle” by Nordhaus in 1975. His work hypothesized that politicians would favor pre-electoral policies that, in the short term, yield lower rates of unemployment and higher rates of inflation instead of policies that would encourage an optimal balance of both in the long term. In doing so, a government uses fiscal policy to improve the economic situation in the short term and, as a result, popular perception of a party’s performance immediately before elections to improve their chances at the polls.


While spending is one avenue for an autocrat to seek, coercion is a second option when spending alone may produce uncertain results. Notably, Bhasin and Gandhi, looking at presidential elections in every authoritarian country from 1990 to 2008, have argued that before elections “regimes will moderate their use of violence against ordinary citizens, while simultaneously directing state-sponsored repression towards opposition elites. Ordinary citizens are likely to experience greater repression after the election.” While direct, physical violence is one form of coercion autocrats sometimes rely on, a regime can also use fines and fees in order to punish the society it governs.


Autocrats thus may have carrots (spending) and sticks (coercion) which they can use to manipulate electoral outcomes in their favor. Using the 2006-2013 state monthly income and spending data from the Georgian Ministry of Finance, this blog looks at social spending and other income, which consists of non-tax revenues from the sale of services and goods, and from fines and penalties. While the exact denomination and number of fines and penalties would be a better indicator, which would allow us to fully test whether Bhasin and Gandhi’s theory is accurate in the Georgian case, other income is used here as a proxy since the Georgian government has not published a full account of the fines it has administered.


In Georgia, a country which has consistently been ranked as having a less than democratic but not fully authoritarian regime by major democracy scoring indexes such as Freedom House and Polity IV, a clear political business cycle can be observed when looking at social spending between 2006 and 2013, the years for which monthly data on social spending and other income is available from the Ministry of Finance. The chart below shows, on the one hand, the monthly average of social spending for each election year, excluding the month before elections, and, on the other hand, social spending the month before elections. In every case, the latter has been higher than the former.



The clearest example of electorally motivated social spending in Georgia was in December 2007, in the lead up to the 2008 snap presidential elections that were held on 5 January, 2008. The dramatic increase in social spending makes particular sense when considering the options available to an autocrat to attract votes – spending and coercion. On November 7, 2007 the government violently cracked down on opposition protests in Tbilisi. These actions triggered widespread anger, and had the government continued to use coercion, it would likely have further decreased popular support for it. The incumbent regime realized it was left with spending alone – the “carrot” – to attract voters, and the precipitous rise in spending indicates this. While social spending remained stable from January to September 2007, varying from GEL 51.8 million to 54.8 million, it increased to Gel 66.4 million in October, to GEL 134.3 million in November, and to GEL 206.6 million in December. 
 
In addition to attempting to ‘buy’ voter loyalty, an autocrat can also attempt to coerce it, be it physically or financially. Looking at the Georgian state budget’s other income line from 2006 to 2013, a fiscal coercion cycle appears in addition to the social spending cycle described above. In the chart below, pre-electoral highs in other income are shown together with the average monthly other income collected each election year, excluding the pre-electoral high for the given year. The pre-electoral high occurred two months before elections every election year except 2010, when it occurred one month before elections.


Note: The other income average (blue bars) includes the month before elections, except for in 2010, since, as noted above, in all other election years the pre-electoral high occurred two months before elections.

Correction: This graph originally presented the pre-electoral high in other income as 140 million in 2006; this is the figure for other income for March, rather than August of 2006. The graph has been updated to reflect the correct average in other income and the correct pre-electoral high in other income. The pre-electoral income in 2008 was originally reported as nearly equal to the average other income. In fact it was significantly lower than the average, two months before the elections.
 
On all occasions except the 2008 January elections, the state collected a significant amount more in other income during pre-electoral highs. In 2006, the state collected 137% of the average monthly other income before elections, 186% before the May 2008 elections, 338% before the 2010 elections, 453% before the 2012 elections, and 171% before the 2013 elections.

While without detailed data on the denomination and number of fines and penalties it is impossible to prove that the Georgian government – UNM and GD alike – has been trying to punish the electorate after elections and elites before elections, as hypothesized by Bhasin and Gandhi, the regular dramatic increases in other income before elections suggests that the government is punishing elites before elections. This is well exemplified by the 2012 pre-electoral period, when the government fined Bidzina Ivanishvili and his Georgian Dream coalition a number of times in the lead up to elections.

Once again, the 2008 January elections appear to be an outlier. Other income dropped from GEL 41.2 million in October to GEL 10.5 million in November of 2007, the month that the snap presidential elections were announced. It seems reasonable to suppose that the government believed and feared that an attempt at further coercion, after putting down popular protests, would have been more costly than beneficial for their electoral outcomes – the government had exceeded their ’coercion budget’ so to speak. This likely explains the astronomical rise in social spending discussed above.

Autocrats can and do use carrots and sticks to manipulate electoral results in Georgia. This blog post looked at social spending as a “policy carrot” and other income as a “policy stick”. In the month before elections, social spending has consistently increased in Georgia, while two months before elections other income too has increased, with the only exception occurring in the aftermath of the events of November 2007. This suggests clear pre-electoral spending and coercive cycles in Georgia, implying that the government consistently attempted to manipulate electoral outcomes.
29.09.2015 | Tuesday

The lay of the land: An interview with Hans Gutbrod on think tanks in the South Caucasus

[Editor's note: This is the second in a series of blog posts co-published with On Think Tanks. The views expressed within this blog series are the authors alone, and do not represent the views of CRRC-Georgia.]

Interview by Dustin Gilbreath

Dustin Gilbreath: You recently recently pointed out that think tanks in the South Caucasus have come a long way in recent years, but that they still face challenges on some of the fundamentals – quality of research, policy relevance, funding, and operational acumen.  At the national rather than regional level, what are the relative strengths of and challenges before the think tank sector of each country?
28.09.2015 | Monday

Thinking about think tanks in the South Caucasus

[Editor's note: This is the first in a series of blog posts co-published with On Think Tanks. The views expressed within this blog series are the authors alone, and do not represent the views of CRRC-Georgia]

By: Dustin Gilbreath

Starting from similarly troubled slates at the turn of independence, the South Caucasus countries – Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia – have diverged over the last 25 years, and the region is an interesting case of divergence despite similarity. While in Azerbaijan the government is squeezing the last bit of free expression from the country, Georgia is having its problems but is by far the freest place in the region. Armenia still has space for engagement, but it is not as open as Georgia.
14.09.2015 | Monday

The Georgian public on journalists

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.
24.08.2015 | Monday

Internet and social media usage in Georgia

In April-May 2015, CRRC-Georgia carried out a representative survey of the adult population of Georgia for Transparency International Georgia. The survey contained a number of questions on Internet and social media usage, and the results show us who is online, what people are doing online, who is using social networks, and which networks people use most.
28.06.2015 | Sunday

Finding divorce hard to justify

By Maya Komakhidze

[Note:  Social Science in the Caucasus is publishing the work of six young researchers who entered CRRC-Georgia’s Junior Fellowship Program (JFP) in February 2015. This is the third blog post in the series. Click 
here to see the first and second blog posts in the series.]

study carried out by the UNDP in 2013 shows that traditional views of gender roles persist in Georgia – women primarily view themselves as housewives, spouses and mothers. Unsurprisingly, in the focus group discussions conducted within the framework of the National Research on Domestic Violence project, respondents associated divorce with “disaster,” “the end of the world” and the shame of a woman returning to her parents’ home after divorce. 
24.06.2015 | Wednesday

Georgia’s e-government – who is it for?

By Davit Mzikyan

[Note:  Social Science in the Caucasus is publishing the work of six young researchers who entered CRRC-Georgia’s Junior Fellowship Program (JFP) in February 2015. This is the second blog post in the series. Click 
here to see the first blog post.]

In the late 1990’s together with the boom in digital and information technologies, the concept of e-government first began to take shape. Since then, e-government has spread throughout the world. In 2007, e-government was launched in Georgia with the creation of the government commission supporting e-governance development, and in 2010, the Data Exchange Agency (DEA) was created under the Ministry of Justice of Georgia.
22.06.2015 | Monday

Connections or education? On the most important factors for getting a good job in Georgia

What is believed to be the most important factor for getting a good job in a country where unemployment is widely considered to be one of the biggest issues? CRRC’s 2013 Caucasus Barometer (CB) survey results show that connections (30%) and education (28%) are the most frequent answers to this question in Georgia.
22.02.2013 | Friday

Before and After the Elections: Shifting Public Opinion in Georgia

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

Alternating Pasts, Changing Futures

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.” 
28.04.2014 | Monday

Trust in Institutions in the South Caucasus

Trust in institutions has often been thought of as negatively related to perceptions of corruption in political institutions. Every year, Transparency International publishes a Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) which ranks countries from highly corrupt to very clean.
13.05.2014 | Tuesday

Common Challenges Facing the Elderly in Georgia

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “Multiple social, psychological, and biological factors determine the level of mental health of a person at any point in time. In addition to the typical life stressors common to all people, older people are more likely to experience events such as bereavement, a drop in socioeconomic status with retirement, or a disability.” 
19.05.2014 | Monday

Paternalism in Georgia

According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, paternalism is “the interference of a state or an individual with another person against their will motivated by a claim that the person interfered with will be better off or protected from harm” (from the Latin pater for father). Simply put, paternalism refers to treating people as if they were children. The Caucasus Barometer (CB) assesses attitudes toward governance among Georgians. Who thinks citizens should be treated like children by the government (i.e. the paternalistic view) rather than as employers? Using data from the CB 2013, this blog post focuses on the following qualities of citizens: education level, economic condition and source of household income in order to better understand this paternalistic view in Georgia.
02.06.2014 | Monday

Finding a good job in Georgia

Data on employment and perceptions about work present an interesting lens on Georgia. This is especially true since the official unemployment rate is 15% according to Geostat in 2012, and 31% of the population is unemployed and seeking work in Georgia as of September 2013, according to the National Democratic Institute.
23.06.2014 | Monday

Trust in local government in Georgia

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
28.07.2014 | Monday

Are more educated women in Georgia choosing not to have children?

Some social scientists, such as Satoshi Kanazawa, argue that a woman’s education level can impact her willingness to have children. However, Linda Hirshman, a scholar of women’s issues, questions Kanazawa’s findings by arguing that reproduction is a culturally-inflected decision. Additionally, Gary Becker hypothesizes that women with higher education might not feel economic pressure such that marriage is economically advantageous.
04.08.2014 | Monday

A look at (in)Justice in Georgia as charges are brought against ex-President Saakashvili

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.
18.08.2014 | Monday

One step forward, two steps back? European integration in Georgia after the Association Agreement

So far, 2014 is shaping up to be the year that Georgia might begin to reap the benefits of its pro-EU and pro-NATO foreign policy. In June, Georgia signed the EU Association Agreement despite fears over Russian agitation. NATO has indicated its readiness to discuss a “substantive package” for Georgia, if not a Membership Action Plan. However, despite these gestures towards closer cooperation, some elements of the decision to sign the Agreement have caused friction.
25.08.2014 | Monday

Emigration, Language, and Remittances in Georgia

As discussed in a recent blog post, household incomes in Georgia have risen steadily since 2008. The percentage of Georgians who have family or close relatives living abroad has also significantly increased from 37% in 2009 to 53% in 2013. 14% of Georgian households currently receive money from family members, relatives, or friends living in another country as an income source. This blog examines changes in interest in emigrating from Georgia over the last five years, while controlling for certain variables.
22.09.2014 | Monday

Russia as a threat: the Ukraine crisis and changing public opinion in Georgia

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”.
27.10.2014 | Monday

Don’t worry, exercise, and be happy

It has become common knowledge that those who exercise regularly are healthier than those who do not, but are those who exercise also happier? According to research conducted by the University of Bristol, people who regularly exercise are happier, more productive at work, and less stressed than those who are not engaged in regular physical activities.
06.11.2014 | Thursday

The recent history of the South Caucasus as seen by the world’s media - Part 2, Georgia

In Monday's blog post, we looked at a snapshot of Armenia and Azerbaijan’s representation in the global media from 1979 to present. Today, we take a look at the third South Caucasus state, Georgia. What are the events that have popped up in Georgia and made international news over the last 35 years?
10.11.2014 | Monday

Exploring Homophobia in Georgia: Part 1

Homophobia is defined as a hatred of gay and lesbian individuals that results in cognitive, affective and behavioral attitudes and can be marked with emotional reactions such as fear, disgust and anger (Wright, Adams, & Bernat, 1999, O’Donohue & Caselles, 1993, Rozin, Haidt, & McCauley, 2008). In recent years, the Georgian population has shown itself to be homophobic in many ways. CRRC data from the 2011 Caucasus Barometer survey shows that the level of homophobia in Georgia is higher than in most European countries and comes close to African countries with 88% of the population claiming that homosexuality can never be justified.
13.11.2014 | Thursday

Exploring Homophobia in Georgia: Part 2

This is the second blog post in a series analyzing homophobia in Tbilisi. The first blog post in this series can be found here. 

Who tends to be more homophobic in Tbilisi – men or women? This blog post explores differences in homophobic attitudes between males and females using data from CRRC-Georgia’s survey of Tbilisi residents on the events of May 17, 2013, and shows that men tend to be more homophobic than women. Moreover, the findings show that men are more homophobic when they believe that homosexuality is inborn, rather than acquired.
04.12.2014 | Thursday

SME Performance in Georgia and Armenia: Part 2

As discussed in the first blog post of this series, the results of the CRRC Caucasus Barometer (CB) survey show that Georgians demonstrate higher levels of interpersonal and institutional trust than Armenians. These types of trust are important indicators of social capital, which is often taken as a necessary condition for the presence of a robust, productive entrepreneurial class and small and medium enterprise (SME) sector.
29.12.2014 | Monday

Georgia in a turbulent world: 2014 in review

Calling 2014 turbulent for the world seems almost euphemistic. The world witnessed renewed Russian revanchism with the war in Ukraine and annexation of Crimea, the emergence of a highly successful militant Islamic organization, Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, and the persistently tense situation in Israel erupted into another war between Israelis and Palestinians.
19.09.2016 | Monday

Employment and income in Georgia: Differences by educational attainment

According to the data of the National Statistics Office of Georgia for 2005-2016, there are approximately 100,000 students in Georgian tertiary educational institutions. Around the world, education generally contributes to increased individual income, and Georgia would not be expected to be an exception in this regard.
19.10.2015 | Monday

Do Think Tanks in Georgia Lobby for Foreign Powers?

[Editor's note: This is the fifth in a series of blog posts co-published with On Think Tanks. The views expressed within this blog series are the authors alone and do not represent the views of CRRC-Georgia.]

By Till Bruckner 

If you work on policy issues in a transition or developing country, you probably know the standard line on think tanks by heart. Local think tanks build domestic research capacity, improve policy formulation processes and outcomes, and enrich and enhance democratic debates, thereby contributing to the emergence of more democratic, wealthy, and equitable societies. (Yes, you may copy and paste this into your next fundraising proposal if you wish).
19.11.2015 | Thursday

Educated parents, educated children?

Numerous scholars stress that parents’ level of education has a tremendous impact on their children’s educational attainment, as the parents are the first role models and teachers. According to Gratz, children of parents with higher levels of education are more likely to receive tertiary education than people whose parents have lower levels of education.
30.11.2015 | Monday

Parenting, gender attitudes and women’s employment in Georgia

In Georgia, unemployment is high, and it is higher among women than men. Policy changes are definitely needed not only to increase the employment opportunities, but also to ensure more equal employment opportunities for men and women.
16.12.2015 | Wednesday

What We Know About Volunteering in Georgia

[This post originally appeared in investor.ge]

By Nino Zubashvili

Following the June 13, 2015 flood in Tbilisi, hundreds of volunteers helped to clean the disaster-affected zones of the city, which stirred the hope that volunteerism is on the rise in Georgia. In the past, studies on volunteering in Georgia conducted by non-governmental organizations (such as Helping Hand and the Civil Society Institute) claimed that volunteerism had not taken root in Georgian society, and CRRC-Georgia surveys have consistently shown a mismatch between attitudes and actions regarding volunteering in Georgia.
22.12.2015 | Tuesday

No, Putin is not winning Georgia away from Europe. Here are the facts.

[Editor's Note: This post was originally published on the Washington Post's Monkey Cage on Monday, December 21, 2015. The original post is available here. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of CRRC-Georgia or any of the sponsors of the survey which this article is based on. The data on which this article is based is available here.]

By Dustin Gilbreath

Last Friday, after years of diplomatic wrangling over the course of two administrations, the Republic of Georgia received a report from the EU green lighting visa free travel within the European Union in the near future. Yet, media accounts from earlier this year suggested that Georgia was undergoing a “Russian turn”.
15.02.2012 | Wednesday

Fatalism and Political Perceptions in Georgia

Widespread apathy and a general disbelief that good can come from joint effort is a major factor hindering social capital in Georgia. One indicator of apathy can be fatalism, meaning the belief that all events are predetermined and therefore inevitable. This blog explores the level of political fatalism in Georgia and how it is connected to Georgians’ perceptions of the country’s current political course and democracy.
29.03.2012 | Thursday

Blood Donation in Georgia: Obstacles and Opportunities

According to a report by the World Health Organization, blood donations in Georgia fall below the estimated need for patients. Approximately 60,000 donations are necessary per year to cover Georgian patients’ needs, while the number of actual blood donation does not exceed 37,000. Moreover, 95% of blood donations come from paid donors.
22.03.2011 | Tuesday

Transparency International Georgia launches platform to fix your street

According to a poll CRRC conducted for the National Democratic Institute (NDI), 38% of the Georgian population says roads is the most important local issue for them. Sewage, streetlights and trash collection are other issues that the population finds important.
13.07.2012 | Friday

PERCEIVED POVERTY IN GEORGIA: RESULTS OF THE 2011 CAUCASUS BAROMETER

The 2011 Caucasus Barometer asked the Georgian population, “Relative to most of the households around you, would you describe the current economic condition of your household as very good, good, fair, poor or very poor? 
08.07.2011 | Friday

Georgia Adopts Law on the Status of Religious Minorities

On July 5, 2011 Georgia adopted a new legislative amendment into the country’s civil code stating that religious minority groups with “historic ties to Georgia” or those defined as religions by members of the Council of Europe can register as legal entities of public law. The initial draft of the law specifically mentioned the Roman Catholic Church, Muslim and Jewish communities, Armenian Apostolic Church and the Evangelical Baptist Church as having “close historic ties with Georgia”. However, the final draft did not specifically name these five groups.
27.07.2011 | Wednesday

Rule of Law in Georgia - Opinions and Attitudes of the Population

As a part of the Caucasus Barometer Report Writing Competition held by CRRC in the spring of 2011, we would like to present the second report (the first report was published recently) written by Salome Tsereteli-Stephen. The report deals with the rule of law in Georgia and here is a short summary of Salome’s findings and an analysis of the subject.
28.07.2011 | Thursday

Upswing of Transition in Georgia

This past summer, Freedom House launched the 14th edition of its Nations in Transit (NIT) report. The publication comprehensively monitors democratic developments in 29 countries from Central Europe to Eurasia, amongst them Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan. CRRC is represented in the report with data from the 2010 Corruption Survey in Armenia.
22.08.2011 | Monday

Georgia and Russia: Can positive relations between the populations overcome the political turmoil?

On the third anniversary of the 2008 August war the Russian Foreign Minister said that Russia will not renew ties with Georgia as long as the Georgian President Mikhail Saakhashvili is in power. Relations between the Georgian and Russian governments have been at a standstill since the conflict in 2008. Nevertheless, the attitudes of Georgians towards Russians remain positive.
29.06.2012 | Friday

Exploring Neighbourhoods in Georgia: Promises and Challenges for Collaboration

In 2011 CRRC conducted a survey on Volunteering and Civic Participation in Georgia. A part of this survey aimed at exploring relationships between neighbours. The results indicate that the relationships between neighbours in Georgia can be a promising starting point for building social capital and achieving improved housing conditions through collaboration.
07.09.2011 | Wednesday

How Does Gender Determine Roles and Behaviors of Women in and outside of Georgian Families?

We would like to present the third report from the Caucasus Barometer Report Writing Competition held by CRRC in spring 2011 and written by Mariam Naskidashvili. The first and the second reports were published earlier this summer. The report concerns the roles and behavior of women in Georgian society. Here is a short summary of the report:
12.09.2011 | Monday

Does Refusal to Recognize Elections in Abkhazia Reduce Prospects for Resolution?

A recent New York Times article argues that the failure of Western governments to recognize the latest presidential elections in Abkhazia on August 26, 2011 may hamper conflict resolution. According to the authors, Cooley and Mitchell, Western governments have a “counterproductive disdain” of developments in Abkhazia and isolating Sukhumi will reduce prospects for conflict resolution. 
27.09.2011 | Tuesday

Georgia's desire for NATO membership

On September 15th 2011, the former American Ambassador to NATO, Kurt Volker, delivered a speech at the Georgian Foundation for Strategic and International Studies about NATO’s past development, present capabilities and future challenges. The second part of the speech addressed relations between NATO and Georgia. According to Ambassador Volker, the enlargement of the alliance will not be on the agenda during the next summit in Chicago.
29.09.2011 | Thursday

Is the South Caucasus a homogenous region?

In a recent datablog, the Guardian published a map visualizing how the former Soviet countries are doing 20 years after the fall of the Soviet Union. The map compares the 15 former Soviet countries in terms of economic development, demographics and democratic transition. It also divides the countries into five regions: Russia, the Baltic countries, the EU borderlands, Central Asia and the South Caucasus.
07.12.2011 | Wednesday

Can a Cut NATO Supply Route Through Russia Benefit Georgia and Azerbaijan?

The 20th anniversary of the dissolution of the Soviet Union is upon us, and US-Russian tensions have risen as Russia contemplates terminating the NATO supply route through Russia. International news reports such as The New York Times detail the threat as a “death blow” to the U.S.-led NATO mission in Afghanistan and indicate that this could be a blessing in disguise for NATO hopeful Georgia, as well as for Azerbaijan.
26.12.2011 | Monday

Boy or Girl? Child Gender Preference in the South Caucasus

Survey data shows that there is a strong preference for male children over female children throughout the South Caucasus. As mentioned in the March 4, 2010 edition of The Economist, after 1991 there has been an increase in the ratio of boys to girls in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia. The sex ratio rose from 103-106 boys to 100 girls in 1991 to 115-120 boys to 100 girls by 2000. The 2010 Caucasus Barometer (CB) indicates that gender preferences in the South Caucasus remain skewed in favor of males with 54% of Armenians, 27% of Azerbaijanis and 46% of Georgians prefer to have male children if given a choice.
19.03.2010 | Friday

Gender imbalances | The South Caucasus on the top of the list

Earlier this month The Economist published two articles (article onearticle two) on imbalances in gender. In all societies there is, at birth, a sex ratio slightly biased in favor of boys: 103-106 boys to 100 girls. The number evens out later on as male babies have a higher mortality rate than female babies. In some parts of the world, however, there currently is an abnormally high number of boys being born.
30.03.2010 | Tuesday

2010 Big Mac Index | Increased differences between Baku and Tbilisi

In 2007 we wrote a blog post on the Big Mac Index, an index published by The Economist as an informal way of measuring purchasing power parity (PPP). The idea is that a dollar should buy you the same amount in all countries, and as a Big Mac is assumed to be produced in the same way everywhere it can serve as a point of comparison. You can thus determine how far off the exchange rate is between countries, in terms of citizens’ ability to buy the same “basket” of goods and services (in this case a Big Mac hamburger).
 
14.04.2010 | Wednesday

Research on Education of IDP Children in Georgia

On 29 March the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) held a presentation in Tbilisi of the research report “Not Displaced, Out-of-Place – Education of IDP children in Georgia”. The research project examines the academic performance of children in so-called Abkhaz public IDP schools in comparison with children in local schools. The research was conducted in the 13 remaining Abkhaz public schools for IDPs that were established in the early 1990s, in the newly established Tserovani School for children displaced from South Ossetia, and in local schools.
14.06.2010 | Monday

Demographic statistics in Georgia | Results from international research

On June 1, the Georgian Center for Population Research (GCPR) and the French National Institute for Demographic Studies (INED), with support from the French Embassy in Georgia, held a seminar on mortality- and fertility-related issues in Georgia. Irina Badurashvili from GCPR and France Meslé, Jacques Vallin and Geraldine Duthé from INED presented the results of their collaborative research dealing with mortality trends and increased male sex ratio at birth.
02.07.2010 | Friday

Post-Soviet States’ Democratic Decline: Results from Freedom House Report

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

Georgian get-togethers: Private Problems versus Politics

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).
27.08.2010 | Friday

Ask CRRC: what does the public actually know?

A recent poll by the Pew Research Center showing that 18% of Americans think that US President Barack Obama is Muslim, and that a further 43% respond that they don't know what religion the President practices, has raised discussions about the level of political knowledge in democracies. Indeed, Newsweek has published a slideshow showing dumb things that Americans believe.
26.10.2010 | Tuesday

Report release - Life on the boundary line: the future of security in Shida Kartli

Saferworld has released a report this month titled Life on the boundary line: the future of security in Shida Kartli. The report is based on the qualitative and quantitative research conducted by CRRC, and aims to assess the security needs of the communities living along the administrative boundary line (ABL) between Shida Kartli and South Ossetia/the Tskhinvali region in Georgia.
29.10.2010 | Friday

Small changes in corruption rates in the Caucasus

On October 26 Transparency International released the results of the 2010 Corruption Perception Index (CPI). The CPI is a measure of domestic, public sector corruption in 178 countries, rating them on a scale from 10 (very clean) to 0 (highly corrupt). Nearly three quarters of the countries in the index score below five and the South Caucasus countries are no exceptions.
21.01.2008 | Monday

The Global Broadband Speed Test

According to CRRC's 2007 Data Initiative 2007 (visit www.crrccenters.org), around 3% of the population have Internet access at home in Georgia; nevertheless, we were curious to know how fast these people’s Internet speed is across the Caucasus.
22.02.2008 | Friday

Bertelsmann Transformation Index | Using a New Interactive Tool to Analyze the Caucasus

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."
21.03.2008 | Friday

Philanthropy in Georgia

Corporate Social Responsibility, a fashionable issue, is becoming a topic in the South Caucasus as well. CRRC research fellow, Giorgi Meladze, explored Georgian corporations’ generosity in his research undertaken in 2006.
31.03.2008 | Monday

Brookings Index of Regime Weakness | State Rebuilding or State Collapse in the Caucasus | The Annals of Data

Yet another index was released recently -- Brookings Index of State Weakness in the Developing World. One professor of mine in graduate school, who was a veteran hot spot worker, related that all of the conflict professionals keep their eye on this map to see where they are going next. In this year's version of the index, however, it's where they already are: Somalia, Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Iraq top the list.
03.05.2008 | Saturday

Exit Polls | Take Two

Readers may recall that we voiced some concern with regards to exit polls. Here is a fascinating account, first-hand, by a reputed pollster having what they describe as an "Adventure in Baku".
21.05.2008 | Wednesday

Parliamentary Elections in Georgia | ODIHR Observation

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.
22.07.2008 | Tuesday

Caucasus Data: Tolerance towards Others

The CRRC Data Initiative (DI) gives people an opportunity to do interesting cross-country comparisons of the South Caucasus (SC) people’s attitude toward their neighbors. This subject is quite sensitive and complex when thinking of the fact that the SC stands out for its sequence of ethnic conflicts.
04.08.2008 | Monday

Georgia: Women's Participation in Politics

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.
26.10.2016 | Wednesday

რატომ არ მართლდება წინასაარჩევნო გამოკითხვების შედეგები?

საქართველოში ექვსი ოქტომბრის დილის რვა საათიდან საარჩევნო უბნების დახურვამდე დუმილის პერიოდია. დროის ამ შუალედში, კანონმდებლობის თანახმად, საზოგადოებრივი აზრის გამოკითხვის შედეგების გამოქვეყნება იკრძალება[1]. ზუსტად ერთი დღით ადრე, ტელეკომპანია „იმედმა“ საკუთარი დაკვეთით ჩატარებული მასობრივი გამოკითხვის ანგარიში გამოაქვეყნა[2], რომელიც მრავალმა პოლიტიკოსმა, ექსპერტმა თუ ჟურნალისტმა არჩევნების შედეგების წინასწარმეტყველებად მიიღო. ამ წერილში აღვწერ, თუ რატომ არ ემთხვევა (და არ უნდა ემთხვეოდეს) გამოკითხვის შედეგები არჩევნებისას და მიმოვიხილავ მეთოდებს, რომლებიც ხმის მიცემის შედეგების პროგნოზისთვის გამოიყენება.
23.10.2008 | Thursday

McCain vs Obama: Caucasus preferences


So here's something that we are a little puzzled about. The Economist is undertaking a poll to see which American Presidential candidate is favored by the world. In a very blue worldwide map, rooting for Obama, two noticeable yellowish spots, Macedonia and Georgia. McCain, of course, is popular in Georgia for having said "Today we all are Georgians" during the recent conflict.
12.12.2006 | Tuesday

Georgians living in Gali

Rusudan Velidze analyzed the living conditions of the Georgian population living in Gali, in Abkhazia. For those unfamiliar with the circumstances, these mostly are (Georgian) Megrelians, and the area is under control of the de facto Abkhaz authorities.
19.11.2007 | Monday

Georgia's Performance? | Millenium Challenge Corporation's Meta-Index

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.
18.12.2006 | Monday

Barriers to Cooperative Ventures in Rural Georgia: Feisty Farmers

Much has been made about the collapse of agriculture in Georgia. From the overgrown tea plantations surrounding Zugdidi to the sere fields that used to be replete with apples in Gori, one encounters fallow land wherever one goes.