In a sea of pessimism, who is optimistic about Georgia?

The CRRC and NDI survey released two weeks ago showed a pessimistic picture – half the public thinks Georgia is going in the wrong direction, 24% that nothing is changing, and only 19% think it is going in the right direction. A majority (59%) think the country is not a democracy for the first time since the question was asked on the survey in 2010. Moreover, performance assessments of government, parliament, the courts, and most ministries declined.

These perceptions appear to be intertwined with each other. For instance, 46% of those that think that Georgia is a democracy also think the country is going in the right direction. In contrast, only 6% of those that think Georgia is not a democracy also report that the country is headed in the right direction.

In an environment of wide-spread pessimism about the state of affairs of the country, who is optimistic about the country’s direction and the state of Georgia’s democracy? An analysis testing for differences between people of different ages, sexes, settlement types, education levels, and levels of household wealth suggests that people with higher levels of education and those living in rural areas are more optimistic about the direction of the country. People with higher education are eight percentage points more likely to think the country is headed in the right direction, all else equal. People in rural settlements are eight percentage points more likely to think the country is headed in the right direction, controlling for other factors.

When it comes to the state of Georgian democracy, a similar analysis was conducted. The results suggest that younger people and those outside Tbilisi are more likely to think that the country is a democracy. The difference between people from Tbilisi and rural areas is quite large at 14 percentage points. With age, the differences were relatively smaller: a 20 year old had a 39% chance of reporting that Georgia is a democracy compared with a 32% chance of a 60 year old reporting the same, controlling for other factors.

Aside from demographics, it is reasonable to expect that outlooks on the above would be associated with political preferences. To explore this issue, party preference was added to the analyses above. The results suggest that Georgian Dream supporters are much more optimistic in terms of both the direction of the country as well as whether Georgia is a democracy. In contrast, supporters of every other preference – including those who support no party in particular – are much less likely to believe that the country is headed in the right direction or a democracy. These findings coincide with previous analyses showing that partisanship is associated with institutional trust and performance.

Only one in five Georgians think the country is headed in the right direction. Those who are optimistic in terms of the countries direction tend to be more educated and live in rural areas. With thinking the country is a democracy, people in rural areas and younger people are more positive. Above all else, supporters of the Georgian Dream party are most positive about the state of affairs in the country.

The data used for this blog post is available here. Replication code for the analysis is available here.


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