Tuesday | 27 April, 2021

The greatest failures from Shevardnadze to Georgian Dream

Note: This post first appeared on the Caucasus Data Blog, a joint effort of CRRC Georgia and OC Media. The article was written by Dustin Gilbreath, Deputy Research Director at CRRC Georgia. The views presented in the article do not represent the views of CRRC Georgia, the Carnegie Foundation, the Levan Mikeladze Foundation, the Government of Sweden, or any related entity.

While each Georgian government has had a range of successes, as described in another post published today, they have each had their own spectacular failures. 

From Shevardnadze’s failure to establish state power outside Tbilisi, to the human rights abuses under the UNM and Gavrilov’s Nights under Georgian Dream, every government has had significant shortcomings.

While these are some of the most memorable, little research has been conducted on what the public thinks are the largest failings of each government. Data released on Tuesday from a CRRC Georgia survey conducted in partnership with the Levan Mikeladze Foundation and Carnegie Europe provides a picture of the public’s views of the largest successes and failures of government. 

This article looks at the failures, as well as political divisions over them for supporters of the opposition and Georgian Dream.

Shevardnadze’s failures

When it comes to Shevardnadze’s failures, the most common failure named, by 21% of the public, was the country’s economic collapse. One in nine (11%) consider his government’s largest failure to be not preventing the wars in Abkhazia and South Ossetia. 

Electricity shortages (9%), ineffective governance (7%), crime (6%), and the 1998 fighting in Gali (6%) were also commonly mentioned. Still, a fifth of the public (22%) were unable to think of a particular failure.


Note: The questions about the failures of each government in Georgia were asked as open questions, which interviewers selected a corresponding category for from a list of potential response options. If the respondent’s response did not match with any of the categories among those available, the response was coded as other and specified. These responses are quite diverse and available in the dataset, here.

The data suggests that people in rural areas, ethnic minorities, and younger people were less capable or willing to name a failure, controlling for other factors. Young people being less likely to name a failure may stem from young people not remembering the time Shevardnadze was in office. 

Low awareness among ethnic minorities likely stems from the fact that ethnic minorities tend to respond ‘don’t know’ more often than ethnic Georgians in general on surveys.


The UNM’s failures

When asked about the UNM, the public tended to say that human rights abuses (27%) and not preventing the 2008 August War (25%) were the government’s largest failures. Not listening to the public (8%) and crackdowns on protestors (6%) were both also named relatively commonly. Seven percent answered that the government had no failures.

Views of the UNM’s failures varied by party support. Supporters of the opposition were much more likely to think that the UNM government had no failures. In contrast, Georgian Dream supporters were significantly more likely to report that the violation of human rights was the UNM’s greatest failure. 

Georgian Dream’s failures

With regard to the failures of the Georgian Dream government, weak economic growth was most commonly mentioned, with a quarter of the public naming this issue. The next most common response was ‘don’t know’, with one in five not being able to provide a largest failure. Failure to deliver on pre-election promises (9%), Gavrilov’s nights (9%), and failure to accomplish the restoration of justice (8%) were also named somewhat commonly. One in twenty in Georgia believed at the time of the survey that the government had no failures.

While there was not a partisan difference in terms of whether or not people believed the Georgian Dream government had no failures, Georgian Dream supporters were less likely to report they knew which failure was largest. 

In contrast, slow economic growth was the most common response for non–Georgian Dream supporters. They were also more likely to name a failure to deliver on election promises more frequently. 

Shevardnadze’s largest failure was considered to be the economic collapse Georgia experienced during his governance. The United National Movement’s largest failure was considered to be human rights abuses, while the Georgian Dream’s was weak economic growth. 

With these failures, the opposing camps of Georgian Dream and opposition supporters tend towards differing interpretations of their party’s failures. 

Note: The data analysis presented in this article about Shevardnadze’s failures is based on regression models controlling for respondent age group (18-35, 36-55, 56+), employment situation (working or not), party support (Georgian Dream, Opposition party, no party/don’t know and refuse to answer), education level (secondary or less, vocational education, or tertiary education), sex (female or male), settlement type (capital, other urban, or rural), and IDP status (IDP or not). The data used in this article are available here.

24.06.2015 | Wednesday

Georgia’s e-government – who is it for?

By Davit Mzikyan

[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.]

In the late 1990’s together with the boom in digital and information technologies, the concept of e-government first began to take shape. Since then, e-government has spread throughout the world. In 2007, e-government was launched in Georgia with the creation of the government commission supporting e-governance development, and in 2010, the Data Exchange Agency (DEA) was created under the Ministry of Justice of Georgia.
19.05.2014 | Monday

Paternalism in Georgia

According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, paternalism is “the interference of a state or an individual with another person against their will motivated by a claim that the person interfered with will be better off or protected from harm” (from the Latin pater for father). Simply put, paternalism refers to treating people as if they were children. The Caucasus Barometer (CB) assesses attitudes toward governance among Georgians. Who thinks citizens should be treated like children by the government (i.e. the paternalistic view) rather than as employers? Using data from the CB 2013, this blog post focuses on the following qualities of citizens: education level, economic condition and source of household income in order to better understand this paternalistic view in Georgia.
22.12.2014 | Monday

Does public opinion accurately gauge government performance in the South Caucasus?

Robert Putnam’s 1993 work Making Democracy Work: Civic Traditions in Modern Italy marked a seminal moment in the development of institutionalism. Putnam’s exhaustive study of the relationship between the governed and governing in the Italian regions contained the discovery that public opinion provides an accurate picture of actual government performance: “The Italians’ gradually increasing satisfaction with the regional governments … corresponded to real differences in performance,” and in each region Putnam’s measurement of performance was “remarkably consistent with the appraisals offered by the regional attentive public and by the electorate as a whole.”
27.09.2011 | Tuesday

Georgia's desire for NATO membership

On September 15th 2011, the former American Ambassador to NATO, Kurt Volker, delivered a speech at the Georgian Foundation for Strategic and International Studies about NATO’s past development, present capabilities and future challenges. The second part of the speech addressed relations between NATO and Georgia. According to Ambassador Volker, the enlargement of the alliance will not be on the agenda during the next summit in Chicago.
26.04.2017 | Wednesday

How Many Tetri Are in a Lari? The Importance of Municipal Statistics for Good Governance

The government of Georgia has committed itself to collecting and publishing policy-relevant data in a timely manner under the Open Government Partnership. Yet while most ministries and state agencies are happy to provide national-level statistics, they often fail to break them down to the municipal level. Framing it in monetary terms, the current system means that officials do not know how many tetri are in a lari.
21.01.2019 | Monday

Budget priorities are similar to people's spending priorities

Georgia’s state budget amounted to GEL 12.5 billion in 2018.  The Ministry of Labor, Health and Social Affairs; Ministry of Regional Development and Infrastructure; and Ministry of Education and Science had the largest appropriations at 28.2% (GEL 3.528 billion), 14.5% (GEL 1.815 billion), and 9.5% (GEL 1.186 billion) of the budget, respectively. In the 2018 June CRRC/NDI survey, respondents were asked, “What are your top three priorities for spending, understanding it means cutting elsewhere?” Respondents were provided with a show card and allowed to name up to three answers. This blog post looks at whether responses match up with actual spending, and how priorities vary among different demographic groups.
12.08.2019 | Monday

Georgian language proficiency and perceptions of government performance among minorities in Georgia

Integration of ethnic minorities into Georgian society is a significant challenge. As a result of ethnic Armenians and Azerbaijanis’ linguistic separation from ethnic Georgian compatriots, some research suggests their ability to participate in government has been low. Indeed, programming aimed at minority integration in Georgia often focuses on language skills. But, the question remains, how do ethnic minorities that are proficient in Georgian perceive the government? The April 2019 CRRC and NDI data suggest that, while ethnic Armenians that speak Georgian at an advanced level have worse attitudes towards government performance in Georgia, ethnic Azerbaijanis that speak Georgian at an advanced level have better attitudes.
11.11.2019 | Monday

Government employees assess the work of the government better than the general public

The outlook in Georgia continues to be increasingly pessimistic, with more people reporting that the country is heading in the wrong direction. Similarly, performance assessments of government institutions have been on the decline in recent years. As recent CRRC analyses have highlighted, party identification, attitudes towards individual politicians, ethnicity, and Georgian language proficiency among ethnic minorities are associated with attitudes towards government. Analysis of the July 2019 CRRC and NDI survey suggests that working for the state is also associated with performance assessments. However, government employees in poor households and those in Tbilisi rate government performance significantly worse.