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Monday | 06 November, 2017

Taking partly free voters seriously: autocratic response to voter preferences in Armenia and Georgia

Do 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.

In the introduction of the issue, Koba Turmanidze and Matteo Fummagali ask do voters matter in competitive authoritarian regimes and, if so, how? Do their preferences make any difference in the way in which the regime conceives of policies and goes about policy-making? In their article, they argue that they do, and that incumbents take voters seriously. Crucially, the way the regimes respond to policy demand determines their durability in office. The article explains why, despite strong similarities, the political regime ruling Armenia remained stable over the years (from the mid-1990s), whereas the one in Georgia has been unseated on two occasions (2003–2004 and 2012–2013). Evidence confirms that policy-making and voters’ perceptions thereof also play an important role in determining whether a regime collapses or survives. The incumbents collect information on voter preferences, and devise policies in response to them. Policy-making thus matters and is extremely consequential. Paradoxically, however, policy-making makes a difference in counter-intuitive ways. The article concludes that a regime which refrains from making grand promises, or blatantly contradictory or unrealistic ones, has greater chances of surviving than those that set out to transform society, like Saakashvili’s Georgia. Ultimately, such policies backfire on those who launched them.

In the second article in the issue, Dustin Gilbreath and Koba Turmanidze highlight how state capacity volatility and growth affects political survival. Political science has dedicated extensive attention to the determinants of regime change as well as its relation to state capacity. Less work has focused on incumbent political survival and state capacity. Building on selectorate theory (Bueno De Mesquita et al., 2005), the article suggests that the chance of the party of the incumbent remaining in office is partially a function of the capacity of the state they hold power over. However, the authors also hypothesize that state capacity volatility decreases an incumbent’s chances of winning elections. To empirically test these hypotheses, the article uses a cross country statistical analysis complemented by illustrative case studies of policy making from Armenia and Georgia. The analyses support the above two hypotheses, showing that if the incumbent increases state capacity, it increases their chances of staying in office. However, capacity volatility decreases their chances of survival. While Georgian state capacity developed in fits, jumps, and starts, in Armenia state capacity developed at a slow and steady pace for most of its independence. As the aphorism goes, slow and steady wins the race with politicians being thrown out of office in Georgia and the incumbent in Armenia maintaining its power. Based on the analyses presented in the analyses, the authors suggest that a self-defeating game is at work for reformers.

In the third article in the issue, Dustin Gilbreath and Sona Balasanyan take a historic look at election fraud in Armenia and Georgia. In the article they note that elections on unfair playing fields are common, yet election day fraud can result in authoritarians losing office. The freer the environment, the more an authoritarian must rely on means other than election day fraud to retain office, because they are less capable of coercing the population without facing repercussions. Among those other means is cooptation through public policy. A common theme in the special issue is that public policy has been of greater import in Georgia than Armenia. The article makes a contribution to explaining the phenomenon using comparative case studies of election day fraud in Armenia and Georgia over time. To do so, the article uses methods from the field of election forensics to provide a quantitative comparison of the scale of election day fraud in each country’s elections since 2007 using precinct level election results for parliamentary and presidential elections. The test results suggest, as has been widely believed, that Georgia’s elections have had less election day fraud than Armenia’s during this period. This finding provides a theoretical basis to explain why public policy has been a greater concern in Georgia than Armenia.

In the fourth article in the issue, Giorgi Babunashvili argues that while voters are often assumed to be of tertiary importance in less than democratic contexts – the regime can manipulate, buy, or outright steal their votes goes the predominant logic – in reality, voters not only matter but engage in retrospective voting in Georgia, a country with imperfect political competition. Analysis of two waves of nationally representative survey data from 2012 to 2015 supports the retrospective voting theory, with a positive relationship between voter support for the incumbent party and positive assessments of government policies related to socio-economic, democratization, and security issues. Citizens who assess government policies negatively are more prone to voting for opposition candidates or not voting at all compared to those who are more satisfied with the government's performance in Georgia. Notably, these findings are very similar for two governments led by two very different parties in Georgia: the United National Movement (2008–2012) and Georgian Dream – Democratic Georgia (since 2012). Hence, the author concludes that disregarding voters’ preferences has negative consequences for the legitimation and survival of the incumbent.

In the fifth article in this issue, Koba Turmanidze asks: Lie a little or promise a lot? This is a question many politicians face when campaigning before elections. The paper examines whether voters support ambiguous pre-election promises in Armenia and Georgia using an experimental design and if so, what it tells us about accountability mechanisms and a potential accountability trap. The accountability trap emerges when voters cannot hold their elected officials accountable for their promises due to their ambiguity and become disillusioned with political participation. The paper looks at how voters’ expected political behaviour changes in response to randomly assigned types of electoral promises from a hypothetical party. The paper shows a positive effect of ambiguity: if a party makes an ambiguous promise, it will do significantly better in Georgia and at least not worse in Armenia than a party promising a specific policy option. The effect of ambiguity partially explains why parties have been poor at putting forward coherent electoral programs in Armenia and Georgia. More broadly, the findings contribute to understanding the problem of accountability in hybrid regimes, which may lead to representation crises.

In the sixth article in the issue, Rati Shubladze and Tsisana Khundadze point out that voters care about policy, and this is true for democracies as well as hybrid regimes. To show how incumbents’ policy choice influences political continuity and change they look at public policies in Armenia and Georgia from 2004 to 2013. The paper is grounded in Gerschewski’s theoretical framework that views legitimation, repression, and co-optation as the three strategies or pillars of stability in less than democratic regimes. The authors describe each pillar as a set of specific policies designed by ruling parties to gain legitimacy in the eyes of voters, as well as policies aimed at co-optation and/or repression of political opponents. Hence, they demonstrate that the key to the incumbent’s electoral survival is the stabilization process between pillars, i.e. complementary application of policies based on available resources. However, the application of different stabilization strategies is not enough and timing, organization, and balance between pillars are also crucial for maintaining voters’ support for the incumbent. Based on secondary statistical evidence and primary qualitative data analysis, they show how the Armenian government managed to balance the pillars of stability by the effective and well-timed application of different policies, while the government of Georgia failed to use relevant pillars of stabilization when one of the pillars did not work to the incumbent’s advantage.

Overall, the issue makes the case that voters - even in less than democratic contexts - matter.  To view the articles, click on the links above or here for the entire issue.
05.10.2015 | Monday

Think Tanks in Armenia: Who Needs their Thinking?

[Editor's note: This is the third 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 Yevgenya Jenny Paturyan

Think tanks are considered to be an important part of civil society: providers and keepers of expertise on important social, economic, environmental, political and other issues. Organizations like Chatham House and Carnegie Endowment for International Peace come to mind. In addition to ‘pure’ think tanks, there is a plethora of organizations that combine research with advocacy and action, Transparency International being a prominent example.
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”.
20.10.2014 | Monday

Do Armenians Still View Integration with the EU as Part of a Positive-Sum Game?

On September 3rd 2013 Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan surprised many observers, including some in his own government, when he announced that Armenia would sign an agreement with Russia to join the Eurasian Customs Union (ECU) and spurn a long-negotiated Association Agreement (AA) with the European Union. The move has been dubbed a “U-Turn” as well as a “sudden shift in policy,” although it was predated by landmark Armenian-Russian agreements in 1997 and 2006.
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.
03.11.2014 | Monday

The recent history of the South Caucasus as seen by the world’s media – Part 1, Armenia and Azerbaijan

History has been a qualitative discipline and has often been considered part of the humanities, well, historically, but the emergence of big data is likely to extend the use of quantitative methods in historical research in the long run. Big data projects have aimed at everything from finding out where to pick fruit in your city to mapping the prevalence of AIDS in the United States, but a recent project, Global Database of Events, Language, and Tone (GDELT) has compiled a massive database of print media coverage in over 100 languages including Armenian, Azerbaijani, and Georgian. Originally created by Kalev Leetaru and Philip Schrodt at Georgetown University, the GDELT database contains about a quarter of a billion uniquely coded units starting from 1979.
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.
03.03.2011 | Thursday

Armenia Civil Society Index | 2009 Findings

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.
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.
24.03.2011 | Thursday

Conference Summary | "Building Turkish Awareness of Armenian Genocide"

By Ben Bronstein

On March 15th 2011, the ‘Yerkir’ Union and the Caucasus Institute held an international conference on Building Awareness of Turkish Society Regarding the Armenian Genocide. Speakers included Armenian experts as well as Cengiz Aktar and Ali Bayramoğlu, two Turkish experts who initiated the ‘I Apologize’ campaign in Turkey. The ‘I Apologize’ campaign was launched in 2008 by a group of Turkish intellectuals, allowing Turks the opportunity to personally apologize for the Armenian Genocide by signing an online petition. At present, approximately 70,000 people have signed the petition.
13.04.2011 | Wednesday

Internet Penetration in Armenia

Scholar Katy Pearce recently published an article on Epress News (http://www.epress.am/) revealing some interesting points about internet penetration in Armenia. Using information from CRRC's 2010 Caucasus Barometer, Pearce writes that internet penetration tripled from 2009 to 2010 within Armenia. According to Pearce, the most likely reason for this is increased access to mobile internet.
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.
13.10.2011 | Thursday

Armenian attitudes towards opening the border with Turkey

During the 20th anniversary of Armenian independence from the Soviet Union on September 21, 2011, the Armenian news service Hetq reported that the organizers of celebratory events were delivering commemorative T-shirts made in Turkey – which has had closed borders with Armenia since 1993. Despite the fact that trade between Armenia and Turkey flourishes via Georgia, the border between the two countries remains closed. What does the population of Armenia actually think about opening the border with Turkey?
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.
05.11.2010 | Friday

Overcoming Negative Stereotypes in the South Caucasus

CRRC hosted a presentation on October 27 by Onnik Krikorian, a British journalist of part-Armenian descent and the Caucasus editor for Global Voices, entitled “Overcoming Negative Stereotypes in the Caucasus: New and Social Media in cross-border communication and conflict reporting.”
14.11.2010 | Sunday

The Media in Armenia and Azerbaijan: Effective or Affective?

Many academics argue that the influence of the media is especially strong in environments where citizens depend on a limited number of news sources. In contrast, when citizens have alternative sources of information they are less subject to the potential effects of media.
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."
27.02.2008 | Wednesday

Inflation in Armenia? | Lecture by IMF Representative

Readers here may not be aware that actually our Armenian CRRC also runs its own blog, to announce and describe CRRC's events. One of the most recent events was a lecture by the IMF Resident Representative in Armenia, Dr. Nienke Oomes.
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.
11.04.2008 | Friday

Armenia and Azerbaijan’s Performance | Millennium Challenge Corporation’s Meta-Index

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

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.
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.
15.08.2017 | Tuesday

Who makes political decisions in Georgia: What people think

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.
19.09.2017 | Tuesday

Private tutoring and inequality in Georgia

According to the March 2016 CRRC/TI-Georgia survey, roughly 4 in 10 households with school-aged children reported hiring a private tutor at the time of the survey for at least one subject that a child in their household was studying at school. While, as has been noted before, private tutoring reflects economic inequalities in Georgian society, it also contributes to furthering these inequalities. This blog post looks at how the frequency of hiring private tutors in Georgia differs by settlement type and level of education of the interviewed household member.
16.10.2017 | Monday

Visa liberalization: How much do people in Georgia know about the conditions of visa-free travel to the EU?

CRRC’s previous blog posts have shown that the population of Georgia had rather moderate expectations of the recent visa liberalization with the Schengen zone countries, especially when it comes to the question of how much ordinary people will benefit from it. Europe Foundation’s latest survey on Knowledge of and Attitudes towards the European Union in Georgia, conducted in May 2017, provides a more nuanced understanding on how people in Georgia feel about this process and to what extent they are familiar with the conditions of visa liberalization.
30.10.2017 | Monday

Georgian public increasingly unaware of what the European Union Monitoring Mission does

As much as 81% of the population of Georgia doesn’t know what the European Union Monitoring Mission (EUMM) does, according to the 2017 Knowledge of and Attitudes towards the European Union in Georgia survey funded by Europe Foundation and implemented by CRRC-Georgia. This lack of knowledge has increased over time, as has the prevalence of incorrect information about the EUMM’s mission. This represents a missed opportunity for the EU’s communications in Georgia.
20.11.2017 | Monday

Was the population informed about the constitutional reform in Georgia?

After 10 months of discussions, the parliament of Georgia adopted amendments to the constitution of the country on September 29th and overrode the president’s veto on October 13th, 2017. The most widely discussed amendments are about rules for electing the president, self-governance principles, the definition of marriage, the sale of agricultural land to foreigners, the minimum age of judges and the country’s foreign policy  orientation. Because of the importance of the amendments, one would expect a high level of awareness among the population. However, despite the public meetings held and media coverage of the issue, according to the CRRC/NDI survey from June 2017, a majority of the population of Georgia was not aware of the constitutional reform process.
27.11.2017 | Monday

Perceptions of professionalism, corruption, and nepotism in local government

Professionalism, honesty, and fair competition are important in any institution. Yet, incidents involving corruptionnepotism and/or a lack of professionalism are sometimes reported in the Georgian media when the work of local government bodies is covered. How does the public perceive local government? This blog post describes data from the June 2017 CRRC/NDI survey, which show that a majority of people in Georgia thought that there were problems with nepotism and a lack of professionalism in local government. Moreover, roughly half of the population thought that their local government also faces a problem with corruption.
25.12.2017 | Monday

Gender (in)equality on TV

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.
22.01.2018 | Monday

What are young people’s values and how are these different from older generations’ values in Georgia?

As Georgian society is going through social and cultural changes, it is important to understand people’s beliefs and values. Comparing the values of young people to those of the older generations is also important. This blog post summarizes the findings of a study that examined the values of young people aged 18 to 25, and analysed how these values are different from the values of older people in Georgia, based on both quantitative (World Values Survey, 2014) and qualitative data (40 in-depth interviews conducted in 2016). The study looked at values, perceptions, attitudes and tolerance towards different minority groups in Georgia. It concludes that in many cases, the younger generation shares more modern views and values, while the older generations are more inclined to support traditional values and hold conservative points of view.
29.01.2018 | Monday

2017 Caucasus Barometer Data Release

This week, 2017 Caucasus Barometer survey (CB) data will become publicly available on CRRC's online data analysis portal. CB is the longest running survey project in the South Caucasus region, with data available from 2008 to present. It enables the comparison of trends in the region over time. Caucasus Barometer 2017 was carried out in Armenia and Georgia in Fall 2017. To view the data for both countries or download the data sets, check our online data analysis platform from February 1.
05.02.2018 | Monday

Who in Georgia wants to study abroad?

Studying abroad can offer students the opportunity to learn new languages, travel, experience different cultures, and form relationships in addition to studying. The Knowledge of and Attitudes towards the European Union survey (EU Survey) implemented by CRRC-Georgia for Europe Foundation provides information about what share of the population in Georgia would like to go abroad to study, and the demographic characteristics of those who would like to.
12.02.2018 | Monday

What factors help to land a good job? Views in Armenia and Georgia

What are the factors that help one get a good job? The question is important around the world, and arguably even more important in countries with high reported unemployment, like Georgia and Armenia. While it would require an in-depth study of the labor market of a given country to find out what actually helps a person get a good job, what people think about this issue is also interesting. CRRC’s 2017 Caucasus Barometer (CB) survey asked the population of Armenia and Georgia which factors where important for getting a good job in their country.
20.02.2018 | Tuesday

As many Georgians think the West spreads propaganda as Russia

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.