The political climate in Georgia, 2012-2014: Increased nihilism or room for new political actors?
In October 2012, the Georgian Dream Coalition (GDC) obtained 54.97% of the party list vote, winning the majority of seats in Parliamentary elections. The United National Movement (UNM), then the ruling party, moved into the opposition with 40.34% of the vote. This was the first occurrence since Georgia’s independence when there was a peaceful, electoral handover of power. Two and a half years have passed, and the next parliamentary elections are on the way, planned to be held in 2016. While the two major parties continue to compete on the political arena to sustain and obtain voters’ support, survey data on political attitudes shows that there may be room for new political actors. This blog post describes the dynamics of attitudes towards GDC and UNM from November 2012 through August 2014 using survey data from the National Democratic Institute (NDI). The data is nationally representative of the adult (18+) Georgian-speaking population in Georgia.
Support for the United National Movement, measured indirectly by the answers to the question, “Which party is closest to you?” has been stable since November of 2012 when 10% of the population named the UNM as their first choice while answering this question. This share has not changed much since. About 30% reported in November 2012 liking two of the UNM leaders, Mikheil Saakashvili and Gigi Ugulava, and these numbers have also not changed much since. Vano Merabishvili’s rating declined from 28% in November 2012 to 17% in June 2013 and has remained at this level since. Giga Bokeria has been one of the least liked UNM politicians for the last two years, while Davit Bakradze has been the most liked.
Note: Only “Like” responses are shown on the chart.
Unlike the UNM, GDC’s support fluctuated during this period. In November 2012, 63% named GDC as their first choice when asked about the party closest to them. This rating started decreasing in the following months, but went up again in November 2013. In April 2014, there was a larger drop in support for the GDC, when 42% named GDC as their first choice.Similar to party support, most GDC leaders’ ratings were over 60% in November 2012. In the beginning of 2013, these numbers started to decline, and dropped even more in August 2014. In 2012 and 2013, Bidzina Ivanishvili was the most liked GDC leader, though in 2014 the share of people who reported they liked Ivanishvili decreased. In August 2014, Irakli Alasania was the most liked GDC leader, followed by Irakli Gharibashvili and Davit Usupashvili.
Note: Only ’Like’ responses are shown on the chart. This question was not asked about Irakli Alasania, Irakli Gharibashili and Kakha Kaladze until November 2013.
Unsurprisingly, the data also shows that support for the United National Movement and Georgian Dream Coalition closely resembles the public’s assessment of their respective performances. The share of people reporting that the UNM was performing well was 14% in November 2012 and has not changed much since. As for the Georgian Dream Coalition, the respective share was 65% in November 2012, and after consistent downward movement (with the sole exception of November 2013) it reached 23% in August 2014.
Another visible trend concerns the share of those who answered “no party”, “don’t know” or “refuse to answer” when asked about the party closest to them. An increasing share of people have reported that no existing political party is closest to them, rising from 5% in November 2012 to 30% in August 2014. About one fifth of the population answered either “don’t know” or “refuse to answer” to this question in November 2012, and by August 2014, this share dropped to 8%.
Thus, though support for the UNM has remained stable, albeit at a low level, support for GDC has shown a downward trend. Since November 2012, fewer people have evaded answering the question about the party closest to them, and more reported there is no such party. Could these findings mean that there is a space for new parties in the Georgian political arena, or do they indicate increased political nihilism? Share your thoughts in the comments section or on our Facebook page here.
More data from NDI public opinion surveys and detailed information about the methodology are available here.
Interview by Dustin Gilbreath
By: Dustin Gilbreath
CRRC’s third annual Methodological Conference: Transformations in the South Caucasus and its Neighbourhood
[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.]
[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.]
CRRC’s Junior Fellowship Program (JFP) was launched in 2009 as a Carnegie Corporation initiative within the CRRC, with the goal of providing on-the-job training opportunities in applied research for young social scientists.
In August 2012 CRRC launched the study of Georgia’s Workforce Development system, commissioned by the World Bank. Document review and key informant interviews have been used as main research methods in this study. On 19th of December, the World Bank office in Tbilisi hosted a workshop which aimed at presenting and validating the preliminary finding...
As Georgians prepare for parliamentary elections set for October 1, 2012, political parties have entered the final stage of the pre-elections race. One of the important attributes of active citizenship and civic engagement is voting in elections. This blog explores Georgians’ attitudes toward voting in elections based on age group and gender differences. In this r...
By Till Bruckner
By Nino Zubashvili
By Dustin Gilbreath
In terms of the business findings, CRRC's Media Survey (undertaken in September/October 2009) generated extensive data that is available to help media make good business decisions. One recent presentation, summarized here, focused on showing the diversity of data that is available.
Food Safety in Georgia: views from retailers, producers and consumers in Tbilisi and Samtskhe-Javakheti
Book Review | The Post-Soviet Wars: Rebellion, Ethnic Conflict and Nationhood in the Caucasus | Christoph Zürcher
Brookings Index of Regime Weakness | State Rebuilding or State Collapse in the Caucasus | The Annals of Data
Here are some basic tips and tricks we found useful.
Book Review: Georgia Diary: A Chronicle of War and Political Chaos in the Post-Soviet Caucasus | Thomas Goltz
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.
Taking partly free voters seriously: autocratic response to voter preferences in Armenia and GeorgiaDo voters in less than democratic contexts matter or are elections simply facades used to create a veneer of democratic accountability for domestic and international actors? Within the Autocratic Response to Voter Preferences in Armenia and Georgia project, funded by Academic Swiss Caucasus Net, CRRC-Georgia and CRRC-Armenia aimed to help answer this question, at least for Georgia and Armenia. On October 27, Caucasus Survey published the results of the project in a special issue, available here.
On December 1-13, 2016, CRRC-Georgia asked the population of Georgia about their New Year’s plans. Unsurprisingly, people mostly follow established traditions. A large majority (73%) plan to ring in the New Year at home. Nine per cent will meet it in a friend’s or a relative’s home. Meeting the New Year in the street or in a restaurant or a café is not yet common, and only one per cent of people in Georgia plan to do so. Another 15% had not decided in the first half of December where they would celebrate the New Year.
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.
In the December 2017 CRRC/NDI survey, pollution was the second most commonly named “infrastructural” issue, with 23% of the population choosing it in the respective show card. Only roads were named more often, by 33%. Approximately equal shares of men and women named pollution: 25% of women and 20% of men; similarly, there was no difference in the frequency of naming this issue by age.