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.
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
შიდა მიგრაცია საქართველოში: რა ვიცით მის შესახებ CRRC-ის კავკასიის ბარომეტრის მონაცემების საფუძვლეზე?არსებული შეფასებების თანახმად, მსოფლიო მასშტაბით შიდა მიგრანტთა რაოდენობა ბევრად აღემატება საერთაშორისო მიგრანტთა რაოდენობას. სამწუხაროდ, საქართველოში ძალიან ცოტა მონაცემი არსებობს შიდა მიგრანტების რაოდენობისა და მათი გეოგრაფიული განაწილების შესახებ. საქართველოს სტატისტიკის ეროვნული სამსახურის შინამეურნეობების ინტეგრირებული გამოკვლევები რეგულარულად აგროვებს ინფორმაციას ქვეყანაში შიდა მიგრაციის შესახებ. სახელმწიფო სერვისების განვითარების სააგენტო კოორდინაციას უწევს მოსახლეობის რეგისტრაციას საცხოვრებელი ადგილის მიხედვით.
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.
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.
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.
The Caucasus Barometer survey regularly asks people, “Which of the following statements do you agree with: “‘People are like children; the government should take care of them like a parent’ or ‘Government is like an employee; the people should be the bosses who control the government.’” Approximately half of the population of Georgia (52%) agreed in 2017 with the former statement and 40% with the latter. Responses to this question have fluctuated to some extent over time, but overall, attitudes are nearly equally split.
But what do people want?
Georgians are enthusiastic in supporting the country’s accession to the European Union. Since 2012, when the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and CRRC-Georgia started tracking attitudes, three quarters of Georgians approved of the government’s goal of joining the EU, on average. What motivates Georgians to support the Union, or alternatively, to abandon support? A survey experiment included in the latest CRRC/NDI poll suggests potential economic burdens have a modest yet significant effect on support for membership. Results do not support the common belief that a potential military threat from Russia dampens Georgians’ support for the EU.