What kind of electoral system do Georgians actually want?
[Note: This article was written by David Sichinava, Research Director at CRRC Georgia. The views presented in the article do not necessarily represent the views of CRRC Georgia or any related entity. The article was co-published with OC-Media.]
The long-fought-over electoral reform was a compromise which represents two steps forward after three steps had been taken back.
The debate over Georgia’s electoral system fueled last year’s political crisis. As the parliament ditched a promised constitutional amendment instituting fully proportional elections for the legislature instead of the current mixed system, opposition parties and civil society groups hit the streets of Tbilisi to protest.
EU-mediated talks between the government and opposition also stalled after the arrest of prominent opposition leader Gigi Ugulava, and disagreement over the interim model of elections.
While both the ruling Georgian Dream Party and the opposition argued that their own initiatives were publicly popular, a recent CRRC Georgia survey shows that the public is more ambivalent than might be expected and sometimes inchoate in their views.
While the majority of those aware that Georgian Dream buried the constitutional amendments assess this negatively, Georgians are split when it comes to potential models for the electoral system.
CRRC Georgia’s omnibus survey, which was fielded in mid-January, showed that over three-quarters of Georgians (76%) were well aware that the ruling party did not pass constitutional amendments.
Most (60%) who had heard of the failure to pass the amendments disapproved of the decision. About a fifth (23%) of Georgians approved of parliament’s decision not to vote in favour of the amendments, while others did not know what to say.
Attitudes vary by partisanship. Almost half of the Georgian Dream supporters (44%) that were aware of the failure to pass the legislation view the failure negatively.
In contrast, those who support opposition parties overwhelmingly disapprove of Georgian Dream’s failure to pass the amendment.
Note: Party identification was coded as follows: supporters of the UNM, European Georgia, Lelo, Civic Movement, Girchi, and For New Georgia were categorised as ‘Liberals’. Supporters of the Alliance of Patriots of Georgia, the Democratic Movement, and Labour Party were grouped in ‘other’.
While it is now clear what electoral system the 2020 parliamentary elections will be conducted under, what did the public want? Suggested proposals for electing MPs to parliament were confusing and potentially hard to grasp for the general public.
The initial proposal suggested and then ditched by Georgian Dream was to have a fully proportional system without any electoral threshold.
Later, the governing party proposed retaining the current mixed electoral system while the opposition supported a ‘German model’, which leaves the mixed model of representation but allocates additional seats to reflect the popular vote.
To avoid such confusion, respondents were separately asked whether they supported specific components of these systems. First, respondents choose between whether they preferred voting for only majoritarian candidates, only for parties, or for both.
Next, those who supported either voting for parties alone or a mixed system were asked whether they approved of having a threshold. Finally, respondents who preferred a mixed electoral system were asked whether they preferred allocation of seats proportional to the popular vote.
Overall, the survey suggests that a plurality (47%) of Georgians support a mixed model of elections to parliament where citizens vote for both parties and individual candidates.
Only 14% support party-list voting only, and 15% think that Georgians should only vote for specific candidates.
About a quarter of Georgians have ambivalent feelings: 14% say that it does not matter to which model Georgia sticks to, while 11% say that they don’t know.
Attitudes are similar across party lines with the exception of liberal opposition parties. Among their supporters, 38% think that Georgians should vote for candidates only, while 29% prefer to vote for parties.
In the initial draft of amendments, Georgian Dream proposed getting rid of the electoral threshold in order to ensure representation of relatively minor political groups. According to the survey, those who prefer a proportional (14%) or mixed model (47%) of electing MPs, overwhelmingly (85%) support retaining one.
Supporters of a mixed model of electing MPs tend to support a proportional distribution of seats. Around half of the supporters of a mixed model (51%) support a party-list vote or a mixed system where seats are assigned proportionally to the popular vote.
Around 27% support either a majoritarian system or the current, mixed system.
Thirty-six per cent of Georgians are ambivalent — they either do not have a preferred way of electing MPs, do not know, or refuse to answer on these questions.
Note: Support for different models of allocating mandates is the combination of two different questions. Respondents who support fully proportional representation and those who are for a mixed system and proportional allocation of mandates within mixed representation are grouped into the proportional allocation group. Those supporting full majoritarian representation fall into a separate category. Respondents who prefer a mixed system and do not favour distribution of mandates per the vote share are grouped together. Those who do not have any preference in terms of seat allocation (‘Don’t know’, ‘Refuse to answer’, and ‘Does not matter’) are put into the ambivalent category.
Importantly, much of the public is inchoate in their attitudes towards the electoral systems. Overall, those who found it unacceptable to ditch the amendments are more likely to support a system which ensures proportional allocation of seats than those who were fine with the failure to pass the electoral reform (46% versus 37%).
Yet, 27% of the public who thought that it was unacceptable to ditch the constitutional amendments also report that they do not support the proportional allocation of seats.
The key challenge for Georgia’s electoral system is whether it can represent political parties proportional to their popular support. Neither the current mixed system nor a majoritarian system necessarily yields proportional allocation of seats.
Indeed, in the past, proportional representation has almost never happened, with the exception of the highly contested and polarised 2012 parliamentary elections.
Importantly, there is a relative consensus among Georgians that have partisan sympathies. A plurality of Georgian Dream supporters (42%), and the majority of those sympathising with both the liberal (53%) and conservative (56%) opposition parties prefer models ensuring proportional representation.
Those who are not affiliated with any political party, declined to disclose their preferences, or do not know are more likely to be ambivalent.
In short, the preference for a mixed model of parliamentary elections prevails among Georgians. This suggests that voters in Georgia may want to see at least some politicians with connections to their communities in parliament.
Still, a plurality of partisan voters prefer an electoral system yielding proportional representation, both in the governmental and opposition camps.
The findings of CRRC Georgia’s omnibus survey substantiates the argument that there is a considerable consensus across party lines for having a variant of a mixed system where the final tally of seats is assigned relative to the popular vote.
Electoral rules often reflect compromises made by political groups. The current opinion of Georgians also hints that Georgians would prefer a balance be struck between more radical proposals.
The dataset, the questionnaire, and the replication code used in the above article can be found here.
To find out more about CRRC Georgia’s omnibus surveys, click here.
Interview by Dustin Gilbreath
By: Dustin Gilbreath
CRRC’s third annual Methodological Conference: Transformations in the South Caucasus and its Neighbourhood
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.
By Till Bruckner
By Nino Zubashvili
By Dustin Gilbreath
In terms of the business findings, CRRC's Media Survey (undertaken in September/October 2009) generated extensive data that is available to help media make good business decisions. One recent presentation, summarized here, focused on showing the diversity of data that is available.
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Three months before the 2016 Parliamentary elections: Trust in the Central Election Commission and election observers in GeorgiaThe June 2016 CRRC/NDI Public attitudes in Georgia survey, conducted three months before the Parliamentary elections, provides interesting information about trust in the Central Election Commission (CEC) and election observers, both local and international.
Visa liberalization: How much do people in Georgia know about the conditions of visa-free travel to the EU?
CRRC’s previous blog posts have shown that the population of Georgia had rather moderate expectations of the recent visa liberalization with the Schengen zone countries, especially when it comes to the question of how much ordinary people will benefit from it. Europe Foundation’s latest survey on Knowledge of and Attitudes towards the European Union in Georgia, conducted in May 2017, provides a more nuanced understanding on how people in Georgia feel about this process and to what extent they are familiar with the conditions of visa liberalization.
Visa liberalization: How much do people in Georgia know about the conditions of visa-free travel to the EU?CRRC’s previous blog posts have shown that the population of Georgia had rather moderate expectations of the recent visa liberalization with the Schengen zone countries, especially when it comes to the question of how much ordinary people will benefit from it. Europe Foundation’s latest survey on Knowledge of and Attitudes towards the European Union in Georgia, conducted in May 2017, provides a more nuanced understanding on how people in Georgia feel about this process and to what extent they are familiar with the conditions of visa liberalization.
Taking partly free voters seriously: autocratic response to voter preferences in Armenia and GeorgiaDo voters in less than democratic contexts matter or are elections simply facades used to create a veneer of democratic accountability for domestic and international actors? Within the Autocratic Response to Voter Preferences in Armenia and Georgia project, funded by Academic Swiss Caucasus Net, CRRC-Georgia and CRRC-Armenia aimed to help answer this question, at least for Georgia and Armenia. On October 27, Caucasus Survey published the results of the project in a special issue, available here.
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.
In the December 2017 CRRC/NDI survey, pollution was the second most commonly named “infrastructural” issue, with 23% of the population choosing it in the respective show card. Only roads were named more often, by 33%. Approximately equal shares of men and women named pollution: 25% of women and 20% of men; similarly, there was no difference in the frequency of naming this issue by age.
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?
Georgians are enthusiastic in supporting the country’s accession to the European Union. Since 2012, when the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and CRRC-Georgia started tracking attitudes, three quarters of Georgians approved of the government’s goal of joining the EU, on average. What motivates Georgians to support the Union, or alternatively, to abandon support? A survey experiment included in the latest CRRC/NDI poll suggests potential economic burdens have a modest yet significant effect on support for membership. Results do not support the common belief that a potential military threat from Russia dampens Georgians’ support for the EU.
While many things could divide the public, what do the people think and which groups report more and fewer sources of division? The April 2019 NDI-CRRC poll suggests that there are fewer perceived reasons for division in rural areas and among ethnic minorities.
უვიზო მიმოსვლის ამოქმედების შემდეგ საქართველოს მოსახლეობაში შემცირდა ცოდნა უვიზო მიმოსვლის მოთხოვნების შესახებუკვე სამი წელიწადია, რაც საქართველოს მოქალაქეებს შენგენის ზონაში უვიზოდ მიმოსვლა შეუძლიათ, რაც რამდენიმეწლიანი დიალოგისა და პოლიტიკის რეფორმის შედეგია. მიუხედავად გასული დროისა და ევროკავშირის მიერ დაფინანსებული საინფორმაციო კამპანიის ჩატარებისა, ამ პროგრამის ამოქმედების შემდეგ საზოგადოების ცოდნა ევროკავშირში უვიზო მიმოსვლის მოთხოვნების შესახებ დაეცა. ამას მოწმობს 2019 წელს CRRC-საქართველოს მიერ ჩატარებული კვლევა ევროკავშირის მიმართ დამოკიდებულებებისა და ცოდნის შეფასების შესახებ. ამავე პერიოდში გაიზარდა საქართველოს მოქალაქეთა რიცხვი, ვინც ევროკავშირის ქვეყნებში არ შეუშვეს. მხოლოდ 2018 წელს ოთხ ათასზე მეტი ასეთი შემთხვევა დაფიქსირდა, რაც 2017 წლის მონაცემებს აღემატება.
In Georgia, having a boy has traditionally been desirable as sons are often considered the main successors in the family line, and they stay at home to take care of their parents as they age in contrast to women who traditionally move in with their husband’s family.
The findings reflect broader global trends which have seen dramatic decreases in air pollution levels in China, Italy, and the United Kingdom.
უზენაესი სასამართლოს მოსამართლეების დანიშვნა: რა იცის საქართველოს მოსახლეობამ და რა დამოკიდებულება აქვს ამ პროცესის მიმართ
2019 წელს, სექტემბრის დასაწყისში, იუსტიციის უმაღლესმა საბჭომ საქართველოს პარლამენტს უზენაესი სასამართლოს მოსამართლეობის კანდიდატების 20-კაციანი სია წარუდგინა დასამტკიცებლად. 2019 წლის სექტემბრიდან ნოემბრამდე პარლამენტმა კანდიდატებთან გასაუბრებები ჩაატარა და 12 დეკემბერს 14 კანდიდატი უზენაეს სასამართლოში მოსამართლედ დაამტკიცა. ქართული მედია ვრცლად აშუქებდა ამ პროცესს.
Facebook is an important part of Georgian politics. Political campaigns are fought, and public opinion thought to often be formed on the platform...
Without trust in the messages of public health officials, measures aimed at preventing the spread of the virus are less likely to be complied with, exacerbating the spread of the virus.
2020 წლის 4-დან 23 მარტამდე პერიოდში CRRC-საქართველომ სატელეფონო გამოკითხვა ჩაატარა იმისათვის, რომ გაეგო საქართველოს მოსახლეობის დამოკიდებულება პროკურატურის მიმართ და ასევე დაედგინა, მოსახლეობის რა ნაწილმა ნახა „სტუდია მონიტორისა“ და „რადიო თავისუფლების“ ფილმი. გამოკითხვაში ყურადღება გამახვილებული იყო შემდეგ საკითხებზე:
- რამდენად ენდობა ან არ ენდობა ხალხი პროკურატურას,
- მოსახლეობის აზრით, რამდენად ხშირია საქართველოში პროკურორების მიერ ძალაუფლების ბოროტად გამოყენება და მოსამართლეებთან გარიგება მათთვის სასარგებლო გადაწყვეტილების მისაღებად,
- რამდენად მოახერხა მთავრობამ სამართლიანობის აღდგენა ჩამორთმეულ ქონებებთან დაკავშირებით.
21 თებერვალს საქართველო მშობლიური ენის დღეს აღნიშნავს, თარიღს, რომელიც იუნესკომ „ლინგვისტური და კულტურული მრავალფეროვნებისა და მრავალენოვნების ხელშეწყობის“ მიზნით დააწესა.
In times of crisis, support for governments often rises in what is known as a rallying around the flag effect. The COVID-19 crisis in Georgia has been no exception.
Data from around the world has shown rallying around the flag effects in many countries during the pandemic, with a few exceptions. Georgia has followed this broader pattern, with performance ratings tripling for many actors and institutions between November/December 2019 and May 2020.
Surveys carried out in Georgia and in Armenia in 2009 and 2019 asked respondents if they approved or disapproved of doing business with or marriages with people of 12 other ethnicities. So, are Georgians and Armenians becoming more or less tolerant?
Data from the Caucasus Barometer has consistently suggested that Georgians and Armenians are more tolerant of doing businesses with other ethnicities than they are of inter-ethnic marriages.