How to buy votes when you can’t buy votes
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.
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.
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.
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.
While many things could divide the public, what do the people think and which groups report more and fewer sources of division? The April 2019 NDI-CRRC poll suggests that there are fewer perceived reasons for division in rural areas and among ethnic minorities.