Changes in the Level of Trust and Political Institutions in Georgia
The level of trust in most political institutions has declined in Georgia since 2012. One of the largest declines was in the level of trust in executive government, which dropped from 49% in 2012 to 21% in 2015. Reported trust in local government has also declined since 2011. There was a large drop in trust in the president since 2011, however, after 2013, it has increased by 10 percentage points. Since 2014, NDI-CRRC polls have shown decreasing support for the Georgian Dream (GD) coalition, which has a majority of seats in the parliament and forms the government. President Giorgi Margvelashvili, on the other hand, is quite distanced from the ruling party, is often criticized by the GD coalition and has made a number of critical remarks towards GD and its leaders. This may explain the discrepancy between rising trust in the president and declining trust in the executive government and the parliament between 2013 and 2015, although more research is needed.
While there has been a consistent drop in trust in most political institutions since 2011, there is a similar albeit less dramatic decline in trust in the police and educational system. The healthcare system is an exception – trust in this system has increased by 16 percentage points since 2012. This may be in response to the introduction of the State Universal Healthcare Program in 2013. Notably, the performance of the Ministry of Labor, Healthcare, and Social Affairs is ranked among the highest of all ministries according to NDI polls. The level of trust in the army is consistently high. Trust in courts has slightly increased since 2012, although it has not returned to its 2011 levels.
Since 2012, the levels of trust in local and executive government, parliament, the educational system and the police in Georgia have declined. Trust in the president and the healthcare system, on the other hand, have increased. Trust in the army remains high.
To explore data on trust in institutions in the South Caucasus further, take a look at our Online Data Analysis tool.
From environmental catastrophe to violence, our world currently faces serious challenges with long-term consequences. In this context, what do people in the Caucasus consider to be the most acute problems?
During Sargsyan’s incumbency, dissatisfaction with government grew and support for protest increasedSerzh Sargsyan, formerly the President and then Prime Minister of Armenia, resigned from office on April 23rd, 2018, following 11 days of peaceful protest. Over the past 10 years, which coincide with Sargsyan’s time in office, Armenians were increasingly dissatisfied with their government. At the same time, the country witnessed growing civic engagement, with “youth-driven, social media-powered, issue-specific civic activism,” referred to as “civic initiatives”. CRRC’s Caucasus Barometer data from 2008 to 2017 reflect both these trends.
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.
Public opinion polls suggest support for democracy is on the decline in Georgia, but does support for democracy correlate to support for liberal values?
An increasing number of Georgians view their country as ‘a democracy with major problems’, with CRRC’s Caucasus Barometer survey showing the share of people reporting this belief to have increased from 27% in 2011 to 48% in 2019.
In parallel to this growing scepticism towards the country’s democratic situation, surveys show a decline in the proportion of the population believing that democracy is preferable to any other kind of government, falling from 65% in 2011 to 49% in 2019.
Gendered norms prevail in Georgian society, which often translates into deprecation of women for smoking, drinking alcohol, having pre-marital sex, and even living with a boyfriend. However, attitudes appear to be shifting.
CRRC’s Caucasus Barometer survey asked people what they thought about several such activities. The data showed that the public are least accepting of women smoking, with 80% reporting it is never acceptable at any age. Sexual relations (63%) and cohabitating with a man before marriage were also commonly thought to be never acceptable for women (60%).
While mobile phone ownership is widespread in Georgia, gaps still remain among rural, elderly, and ethnic minority populations.
Owning a mobile (cell phone) is considered so important that more widespread ownership is considered a sustainable development goal (SDG 5.b) by the United Nations.
Mobile phone ownership among households has increased significantly over the last decade. Caucasus Barometer data indicates that in 2008, two thirds of households owned a mobile phone. This has steadily increased, reaching 96% of households in 2019, the last year for which Caucasus Barometer data is available.
The pandemic has clearly harmed people’s health, yet new data from the Caucasus Barometer Survey suggests that people considered themselves more healthy in 2020.
In 2019, 35% of the public evaluated their health as good. In past years, this had shifted up and down to varying extents, however, the largest change was a decline from 41% to 30% between 2013 and 2014.
In contrast, between 2019 and 2020, the share of people reporting that they were in good health nearly doubled from 35% to 65%.
The recent war in Nagorno-Karabakh resulted in thousands of deaths and the displacement of tens of thousands. Yet despite there being a brutal war near its borders, many in Georgia were unaware of the conflict.
Data from the Caucasus Barometer survey indicate that awareness of the conflict’s existence increased shortly after the war in 2020 compared to 2013, but only slightly. In 2013, when the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict was ‘frozen’, 66% of Georgians reported they had heard of it. Around a third of the population was not aware of it. In December of 2020, shortly after the 44-day long war, 74% of Georgians reported they had heard of it. A whole quarter (26%) of the population, meanwhile, was not aware of military operations between the country’s two direct neighbours.