IRI Release New Georgian Poll | Questions and Highlights

IRI has released a new poll chock full of data (to see all their polls, click here). They interviewed 1500 Georgian voters over the age of 18 in February 2007. This yields an image of political developments, but also provides suggestions to political parties on what the electorate cares about.

We have some misgivings on this poll as a research tool (see below), but let me present some brief highlights.


  • Relations with the CIS remain cold. 60% think that Georgia should not remain a member of the organization.

  • Optimism about resolving armed conflict has significantly dropped. In the recent poll, 32% of respondents now don’t know if South Ossetia will return under Georgian control and 17% of respondents believe it will take more than 6 years. In presumably the same poll done in 2004, 21% thought that South Ossetia would be returned to Georgian control within a year. Now only 5 % believe this will occur.
  • Over 90% still oppose using force in resolving the separatist conflicts.


  • In data supported by CRRC’s Data Initiative, trust in the judicial system remains low, according to the poll. After unemployment, the judiciary is the field most in need of reform, according to respondents. Additionally, 78% of respondents are not satisfied with the Girgvliani court decision.
  • Other things being equal, 50% of voters would choose a male candidate over a female, whereas only 6% would prefer the female (42% claiming indifference). 8% believe that women have too much power in Georgia (we’d love to see what these 8% think about other issues; are they the male part of the 16% who would like to see a return of constitutional monarchy, for example?).

  • 42% of respondents believe abortion should be made illegal, while 38% believe it shouldn’t. (Again, we’d like to see how that breaks down into male and female respondents.)

  • In an interesting statistic about participatory democracy, 59% of respondents did not know the name of the majoritarian MP of their rayon. Nevertheless, half thought that their MP was doing a bad job (whoever that person is). If IRI would make the data set publicly available, lots of interesting comparisons could be made here. What is the relationship between knowledge of the majoritarian MP and judgment of his job? This among other indicators, could judge how effectively politicians were making themselves stand out as individuals. Another reason to promote open data sources!

  • In a statistic that may break with impressions created by public discussion, 56% of respondents support the new statue of St. George on Freedom Square. Again, the breakdown of who these supporters would be interesting to know, as I have a feeling they correlate with other behaviors.
  • 37% believe that many people are afraid to openly express their views. This number has been climbing slowly, but steadily from a baseline of 22% in October 2004. Only 8% believe that the government fully respects citizen’s human rights. At the same time, 48% believe the country is developing in the right direction, up from 39% in April 2006.

  • Unsurprisingly, unemployment and relations with Russian were the government’s biggest failures, while electricity and paving roads the government’s biggest successes. The respondents also thought that unemployment is the largest problem that Georgia is facing.
  • Impressively, only 2% reported having to pay a bribe in the last 12 months to get a service or decision, and 78% believed that the criminal situation had improved (showing a consistent trend over the last few years).

Data, data, data!!!

For this survey to become a research tool, it would be desirable if IRI would

  • make the raw data set available, allowing researchers to look for correlations;
  • tell us about sampling, and non-response, to give a better understanding what type of data we are looking at;
  • release the Georgian questionnaire, so that one can find out exactly what was asked.

It would desirable if such basic transparency requirements became a standard for surveys financed by international donors.


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