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...
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Here are some basic tips and tricks we found useful.
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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.
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.
In early December 2017, two schoolchildren were killed on Khorava Street in Tbilisi. On May 31st, 2018, Tbilisi City Court announced the decision on the Khorava Street murder case. The announcement caused mass demonstrations led by Zaza Saralidze, a father of one of the murdered children.On June 19-26, 2018, within the EU-funded project “Facilitating Implementation of Reforms in the Judiciary (FAIR)”, CRRC-Georgia conducted a phone survey on people’s knowledge about the Court decision and their evaluation. The survey resulted in 1005 completed interviews, and is representative of the adult Georgian-speaking population of the country. The average margin of error of the survey is 2.8%.
Livestock care and livestock-related decision making in rural Georgia: Are there any gender differences?CRRC-Georgia’s survey conducted in August 2017 for the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) asked about livestock owned by rural households in Georgia, including cows, bulls, buffalo, pigs, sheep, and goats. Cows and bulls were reported to be owned most commonly. Some of the questions the project addressed the division of tasks between men and women in taking care of livestock, while other questions tried to find out whether there were gender differences in making major decisions related to livestock and livestock products.
The 2018 presidential elections, and particularly, the events surrounding the second round, have come to be considered a setback for Georgia’s democratic trajectory. Between the first and second round, it was announced that 600,000 voters would have debt relief immediately following the elections, leading some to suggest this was a form of vote buying. A number of instances of electoral fraud were also alleged. The use of party coordinators around election precincts was also widely condemned.
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.
The 2019 survey on Knowledge and Attitudes towards the European Union in Georgia which CRRC Georgia carried out for Europe Foundation suggests that this trend is continuing in Georgia.
Survey experiment: more than a quarter of people in Georgia think that Prosecutor’s Office fulfills its duties non-objectivelySeveral blog posts (see here and here) on Social Science in the South Caucasus have shown that the population of Georgia is split in their views of the Prosecutor’s Office (PO). In the phone survey held in March 2019, carried out for the Promoting Prosecutorial Independence through Monitoring and Engagement (PrIME) project funded by the European Union and implemented by the Institute for Development of Freedom of Information, CRRC-Georgia carried out a survey experiment to better understand under what circumstances people trust and do not trust the Prosecutor’s Office.
In Georgia, having a boy has traditionally been desirable as sons are often considered the main successors in the family line, and they stay at home to take care of their parents as they age in contrast to women who traditionally move in with their husband’s family.
The long-fought-over electoral reform was a compromise which represents two steps forward after three steps had been taken back.
The findings reflect broader global trends which have seen dramatic decreases in air pollution levels in China, Italy, and the United Kingdom.
But, what does the public in Georgia know about the process of appointment of the Supreme Court Justices, and what is their attitude towards the newly appointed justices and judicial institutions? A phone survey conducted on January 30 - February 10, 2020 suggests that people in Georgia are divided between trusting and distrusting judicial institutions...
Facebook is an important part of Georgian politics. Political campaigns are fought, and public opinion thought to often be formed on the platform...
Without trust in the messages of public health officials, measures aimed at preventing the spread of the virus are less likely to be complied with, exacerbating the spread of the virus.
On March 4-23, 2020, CRRC-Georgia conducted a phone survey to find out attitudes towards the prosecutor’s office and whether people watched the film. The survey specifically focused on:
- How much people trust or distrust the Prosecutors Office of Georgia;
- How often people think prosecutors abuse power and make deals with judges or government;
- To what extent the restoration of justice investigations were accomplished.
Talk about political polarisation in Georgia is easy to find. Some have suggested that the recent United National Movement (UNM) announcement that Saakashvili will be their prime ministerial candidate will only make matters worse.
A new data analysis CRRC Georgia released on Tuesday suggests that this may in fact be the case. Data from several years of CRRC Georgia and NDI polling indicates that there are few ideological or policy issues that the supporters of Georgian Dream (GD) and the United National Movement (UNM) disagree about. Rather, attitudes towards politicians and political events are what divides, a fact the public intuitively recognises.
Surveys carried out in Georgia and in Armenia in 2009 and 2019 asked respondents if they approved or disapproved of doing business with or marriages with people of 12 other ethnicities. So, are Georgians and Armenians becoming more or less tolerant?
Data from the Caucasus Barometer has consistently suggested that Georgians and Armenians are more tolerant of doing businesses with other ethnicities than they are of inter-ethnic marriages.
While personality in politics matters greatly for the Georgian public, data from this year shows that for Georgian Dream and United National Movement voters, policy is still important.
A recent CRRC Georgia policy brief argued that what was really dividing Georgians politically was personalities rather than policies. Data from the August 2020 CRRC and NDI survey provides further evidence for this idea.
However, the data also shows a difference between Georgian Dream (GD) and United National Movement (UNM) voters in terms of policy preferences and that economic policy is the most important issue for a plurality of voters.
Political campaigning takes a wide range of forms, from digital advertising to door knocking. Generally, campaigning is believed to both mobilise voters to actually go out to vote as well as win over voters, but which is most relevant in Georgia?
Data from the August CRRC Georgia and NDI public opinion poll indicate that people who wanted to be contacted by campaigners also appeared more partisan than others. This may suggest that campaigning in Georgia will be more effective at turning out partisans than persuading the undecided.
Prior to the most recent episode in Georgia's political crises, COVID-19 was the country's main concern. Yet, data on how the public views the country's handling of the crisis shows a stark partisan divide.
It has been a year since the first case of coronavirus was detected in Georgia. Since then, over 260,000 cases have been confirmed, over 3,300 fatalities, and the economy has suffered the largest decline since 1994. In light of this, how does the Georgian public assess the country’s handling of the pandemic?
Data from the 2020 Caucasus Barometer survey offers a snapshot of how well people think the country did in dealing with the outbreak.
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COVID-19 restrictions have impacted people’s economic activity heavily. This is reflected in key economic indicators such as GDP, which declined by 5.9% year on year between January and November 2020.
It is also reflected in employment, with fewer people reporting starting new jobs and more people reporting having lost one, according to the 2020 Caucasus Barometer.
A popular study suggests that when a person goes for a date, they will be more liked if they take a similar, but slightly less attractive companion with them. Likewise, political parties often look better for their voters when they position themselves against a similar, but less appealing opponent.
Georgia has faced numerous crises in recent years; from the pandemic, to the results of the war in Ukraine, via political controversy and uncertainty.
Controversy over Georgia’s leading politicians’ actions and statements is commonplace. Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili’s recent statements on the war in Ukraine and the subsequent criticism surrounding it is just one recent example.