Tuesday | 27 April, 2021

What were the greatest successes of Shevardnadze, the UNM, and 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.

Each government of Georgia has had a wide range of successes; but how do the public see these successes from Shevardnadze’s time to the present?

When Eduard Shevardnadze’s government is mentioned in Georgia today, it tends to be connected with the dark times Georgia experienced in the 1990s. Yet, his government also saw the introduction of the Georgian Lari, resulting in a stable exchange rate. The United National Movement is credited with fighting petty corruption, and oversaw a period of relatively high economic growth, while at the same time failing to avoid the disastrous 2008 war with Russia. The Georgian Dream government too is seen as having had some success, for example, in reducing the prison population, from what was among the highest in the world. At the same time, incidents like the Gavrilov Nights and issues around election integrity are often cited as failures. 

While outside observers frequently point to a wide variety of successes and failures, what does the Georgian public think? 

Newly released data 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 post looks at the successes, while another post also published today (available here) looks at the failures.

Who has something nice to say about Shevardnadze?

The data says relatively few people in Georgia have something nice to say about Shevardnadze: a third of the public reported they could not name a single success of his government. The second most common response was ‘don’t know’, suggesting less approbation than the previously noted response, but still a lack of a clear success coming to mind. 

The relatively high share of ‘don’t know’ responses may in part stem from a lack of memory of government during this time, particularly for younger respondents.

Among responses that were actual successes, gaining international recognition of Georgia’s independence (12%) and building the east-west energy corridor and related responses (5%) were the most commonly named options. Other responses were named by 3% or less of the public.

Note: The questions about the successes 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 indicates that ethnic Georgians, older people, people in Tbilisi, and working people were more likely to be able to name some success of Shevardnadze. 

Supporters of different political parties were no more or less likely to name a success. However, those who responded that they did not know which party was closest to their views were less able to name a success of Shevardnadze. This may signal less awareness of politics more generally, and in this sense is unsurprising. 

The data suggested there were no significant differences between wealthier and poorer households, the internally displaced and not, and people with different levels of educational achievement.

The public’s views of the UNM in power

The United National Movement Government received praise internationally for its anti-corruption measures, and the country’s economy grew at a rate of between 5%–12% annually outside of the 2008–2009 great recession. Given this, it is perhaps unsurprising that when asked what the largest successes of the government were from 2004–2012, a quarter of the public replied fighting crime/law and order (24%) and another quarter economic growth (23%). 

Improved public services, elimination of petty corruption, and Georgia growing closer to the EU and NATO were each named by 5% of the public, as was that the government had no successes.

There were relatively few differences between the perceptions of Georgian Dream and UNM supporters in terms of the UNM’s greatest achievements, with one exception. Opposition supporters were more likely to view the UNM’s greatest success as economic growth while, Georgian Dream supporters were more likely to report that the UNM had no successes.

Georgian Dream’s wins

While more people could name a success of the Georgian Dream than Shevardnadze’s government, a mix of uncertainty and thinking the government had no successes was common. When asked what the Georgian Dream government’s largest success was, the most common response was that the government had no success, named by 21% of the population. The next most common responses was don’t know (13%). Among actual successes, the public most frequently named improved human rights protections (11%), effective mitigation of the COVID-19 pandemic (9%), and introduction of the universal healthcare programme (9%). Visa-free travel to the EU (7%) and the implementation of the Hepatitis C programme (5%) were also commonly named.


Unsurprisingly, Georgian Dream supporters were more likely to name a success of the government, and opposition supporters were more likely to say they have had no successes. People who were not aligned with any political party were significantly more likely than Georgian Dream supporters, but less likely than opposition supporters, to say that the government has had no successes. Among Georgian Dream supporters, the protection of human rights was named more often than among other groups. 


According to the Georgian public, Shevardnadze’s largest success, among those who could name one, was gaining international recognition of Georgia. Yet, three times as many people report his government had no successes. For the UNM, the public remembers its anti-corruption efforts as well as the country’s economic growth during this period. For Georgian Dream, people have more difficulty naming a concrete success than with the UNM, though more people can name a success for Georgian Dream than for Shevardnadze. Views about the UNM and Georgian Dream were divided along partisan lines, with people in opposing camps less willing or able to name a success of the opposing party.

Note: The data analysis of who can name a success for Shevardnadze’s government presented in this article 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.
27.04.2021 | Tuesday

The greatest failures from Shevardnadze to Georgian Dream

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.