Caucasus Barometer: Unpacking Public Trust in the President

In the spring of 2011, CRRC ran the Caucasus Barometer Report Writing competition and now we have an opportunity to present some of the results to you. The first report is written by one of the competition winners, Keti Khachidze, and addresses trust in the Georgian president. Here is a quick summary of her findings and analysis.

In recent years, the President of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili, has confronted a series of mass demonstrations demanding his resignation. During these opposition-led protests, his political opponents frequently claimed that the president has “lost public trust” and therefore ought to step down. However, results of CRRC’s 2010 Caucasus Barometer survey show that contrary to the allegations of his critics, President Saakashvili continues to enjoy high levels of trust across a wide cross section of society. In fact, he may be more widely trusted now than he has been for several years.

The president enjoys support from a broad cross section of society; those who live in rural areas as well as high earners in the capital are more likely to trust the president. Members of the Azerbaijani ethnic minority in Georgia are especially supportive, as are those who trust the media and those who see Georgia as a place where fair elections are held. The president can also count on the trust of state sector employees, and people who feel positively about international institutions such as NATO and the UN.

However, Tbilisi remains a place where distrust of the president is relatively entrenched, especially among those with lower incomes. Furthermore, several types of people are not only less likely to trust the president, but are much more likely to distrust him. These groups include people who have recently had family members who have lost jobs, those who are least satisfied with their own lives, people who do not trust elections or the media, as well as those who are skeptical of the international community. This suggests a significantly divided political landscape in Georgia. While the president can continue to count on the trust of a majority of the population, there are many groups who appear to be firmly skeptical of him.

Read the report here.