There is a gap between support for democracy and liberal values in Georgia
Note: This article was published in partnership with OC-Media. It is based on an article published in Caucasus Analytical Digest. The views presented in the article represent the views of the authors’ alone, and do not represent the views of CRRC Georgia or any related entity. The article was written by Tamuna Khostaria, a Senior Researcher at CRRC Georgia, and Rati Shubladze, a Policy Analyst at CRRC Georgia.
Public opinion polls suggest support for democracy is on the decline in Georgia, but does support for democracy correlate to support for liberal values?
An increasing number of Georgians view their country as ‘a democracy with major problems’, with CRRC’s Caucasus Barometer survey showing the share of people reporting this belief to have increased from 27% in 2011 to 48% in 2019.
In parallel to this growing scepticism towards the country’s democratic situation, surveys show a decline in the proportion of the population believing that democracy is preferable to any other kind of government, falling from 65% in 2011 to 49% in 2019.
Using data from CRRC’s Caucasus Barometer 2019, it’s possible to look at who is more or less likely to prefer democracy and whether support for democracy is linked with support for gender equality and tolerance towards minorities, factors many regard as core values of a liberal democracy
A regression model comparing respondents who think democracy is preferable to any other kind of government (49%) to those that think either that a non-democratic government can be preferable (20%) or that it does not matter to them (14%) suggests that people living in the capital, ethnic Georgians, and those who spent more years in education are more likely to report support for democracy.
No other demographic factors were found to be associated with support for democracy. Aside from demographics, the study tested whether a number of proxies of liberal values were associated with democratic attitudes. These included:
- An index of tolerance towards ethnic minorities, constructed from questions about whether or not a respondent would approve of someone of their ethnicity marrying a person of another ethnic or religious group.
- An index of attitudes towards women’s freedom of action, including whether or not people thought it was acceptable at any age for women to drink strong alcohol, smoke tobacco, live separately from their parents before marriage, have sexual relations before marriage, or cohabit with a man without marriage.
- Attitudes towards gender equality in terms of breadwinning and whether men and women should get the inheritance.
- A variable proxying homophobia, based on whether or not the respondent would least like to have a homosexual as a neighbour.
Regression analysis demonstrates that none of these proxies for liberal values within the models have a significant association with support for democracy.
Support for democracy in Georgia does not appear to be related to tolerance towards ethnic or sexual minorities. Nor is it associated with supporting women’s rights or gender equality. The only significant predictors of support for democracy as the ideal form of government tested were years of education and ethnic minority status.
This could suggest that people simply claim to be supporters of democracy without really knowing or being ready to accept the values that it has to offer. In turn, this would suggest that people are just going along with the idea of democracy without agreeing to its moral standards. However, these ideas remain unconfirmed to a certain extent.
Given the patterns described above, there is a clear need for further in-depth investigation into the determinants of support for democracy.
შიდა მიგრაცია საქართველოში: რა ვიცით მის შესახებ CRRC-ის კავკასიის ბარომეტრის მონაცემების საფუძვლეზე?არსებული შეფასებების თანახმად, მსოფლიო მასშტაბით შიდა მიგრანტთა რაოდენობა ბევრად აღემატება საერთაშორისო მიგრანტთა რაოდენობას. სამწუხაროდ, საქართველოში ძალიან ცოტა მონაცემი არსებობს შიდა მიგრანტების რაოდენობისა და მათი გეოგრაფიული განაწილების შესახებ. საქართველოს სტატისტიკის ეროვნული სამსახურის შინამეურნეობების ინტეგრირებული გამოკვლევები რეგულარულად აგროვებს ინფორმაციას ქვეყანაში შიდა მიგრაციის შესახებ. სახელმწიფო სერვისების განვითარების სააგენტო კოორდინაციას უწევს მოსახლეობის რეგისტრაციას საცხოვრებელი ადგილის მიხედვით.
From environmental catastrophe to violence, our world currently faces serious challenges with long-term consequences. In this context, what do people in the Caucasus consider to be the most acute problems?
What are young people’s values and how are these different from older generations’ values in Georgia?As Georgian society is going through social and cultural changes, it is important to understand people’s beliefs and values. Comparing the values of young people to those of the older generations is also important. This blog post summarizes the findings of a study that examined the values of young people aged 18 to 25, and analysed how these values are different from the values of older people in Georgia, based on both quantitative (World Values Survey, 2014) and qualitative data (40 in-depth interviews conducted in 2016). The study looked at values, perceptions, attitudes and tolerance towards different minority groups in Georgia. It concludes that in many cases, the younger generation shares more modern views and values, while the older generations are more inclined to support traditional values and hold conservative points of view.
During Sargsyan’s incumbency, dissatisfaction with government grew and support for protest increasedSerzh Sargsyan, formerly the President and then Prime Minister of Armenia, resigned from office on April 23rd, 2018, following 11 days of peaceful protest. Over the past 10 years, which coincide with Sargsyan’s time in office, Armenians were increasingly dissatisfied with their government. At the same time, the country witnessed growing civic engagement, with “youth-driven, social media-powered, issue-specific civic activism,” referred to as “civic initiatives”. CRRC’s Caucasus Barometer data from 2008 to 2017 reflect both these trends.
The Caucasus Barometer survey regularly asks people, “Which of the following statements do you agree with: “‘People are like children; the government should take care of them like a parent’ or ‘Government is like an employee; the people should be the bosses who control the government.’” Approximately half of the population of Georgia (52%) agreed in 2017 with the former statement and 40% with the latter. Responses to this question have fluctuated to some extent over time, but overall, attitudes are nearly equally split.
2018 წლის საპრეზიდენტო არჩევნები, განსაკუთრებით კი — მეორე ტურში დატრიალებული მოვლენები შესაძლოა, ქვეყნის დემოკრატიული განვითარების გზაზე უკან გადადგმულ ნაბიჯად ჩაითვალოს. პირველ და მეორე ტურებს შორის მთავრობამ განაცხადა, რომ არჩევნების შემდეგ დაახლოებით 600 ათასამდე მოქალაქეს ვალებს ჩამოაწერდა, რაც, ზოგიერთი დამკვირვებლის აზრით, ამომრჩეველთა მოსყიდვად უნდა ჩათვლილიყო...
But what do people want?
21 თებერვალს საქართველო მშობლიური ენის დღეს აღნიშნავს, თარიღს, რომელიც იუნესკომ „ლინგვისტური და კულტურული მრავალფეროვნებისა და მრავალენოვნების ხელშეწყობის“ მიზნით დააწესა.
The COVID-19 outbreak generated discussion about whether support for democracy would decline during and after the crisis. While reported support increased, this did not necessarily match support for democratic means of governance.
Data from the CRRC’s COVID-19 monitor shows that more people in Georgia reported support for democracy compared to the pre-crisis period. However, as before the crisis, support for democracy does not seem to be grounded in the values commonly associated with democratic governance.
Gendered norms prevail in Georgian society, which often translates into deprecation of women for smoking, drinking alcohol, having pre-marital sex, and even living with a boyfriend. However, attitudes appear to be shifting.
CRRC’s Caucasus Barometer survey asked people what they thought about several such activities. The data showed that the public are least accepting of women smoking, with 80% reporting it is never acceptable at any age. Sexual relations (63%) and cohabitating with a man before marriage were also commonly thought to be never acceptable for women (60%).