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NDI April 2010 survey presentation

By Salome Modebadze
Tuesday, May 11
On May 6 the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI) introduced the media to the results of a survey it has conducted entitled Public attitudes towards elections in Georgia: Results of a April 2010 survey carried out for NDI by CRRC. The survey, funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) in cooperation with the Eurasia Partnership Foundation and the British Embassy, was conducted from April 11-26 through face to face interviews and asked questions about a variety of national and local issues.

The survey showed that people generally receive information about the elections and the parties they support from the media. Most of the people interviewed supported holding negotiations to select a common opposition candidate for the upcoming Mayoral elections. 75% encouraged other candidates to participate in the televised debates called for by Gigi Ugulava. Problems with voters’ lists, bribing of voters and ballot stuffing were named as the three main barriers to free and fair elections being held. Despite the fact that most respondents realised that the CEC is responsible for checking voters’ lists public awareness of the lists themselves seemed to be low as 65% said they have never checked whether they are included, saying that they simply assume they are as they are legally registered to vote.

Voters are ready to report any kind of violation at polling stations at any level but they are indifferent to appointing domestic election observers. Nevertheless, they feel responsible for helping ensure that fair elections are held as they are aware that their vote is crucial for the final result.

Jobs, territorial integrity and poverty were identified as the three main problems affecting the people of Georgia, and compared to January 2008 these had worsened. The political promises made to tackle these problems are regarded as too insubstantial. In terms of foreign affairs 28% said they partially disapproved of Georgia’s current policy towards Russia but 25% said the opposite. 61% and 82% approved of opening the Zemo Larsi checkpoint and restoring flights between the two countries respectively while 62%, 38% and 59% respectively disapproved of Noghaideli’s, Alasania’s and Burjanadze’s visits to Russia to meet its politicians.

NATO membership appeared to be widely discussed by the people and 56% of those interviewed said that they had received enough information from the authorities about this. 36% somewhat support Georgia joining NATO but only 2% expected Georgia will be granted membership in 2011.

The cost of communal services is an issue for the unemployed, who have seen no particular improvements in their circumstances but still suppose that Georgia is going broadly in the right direction. 47% said that the Government is making the changes which matter to them but 50% said that couldn’t call Georgia democratic and doubted that it will ever be so, due to its lack of freedom of speech, liberty and equality before the law.

The fake Imedi invasion report on March 13 was among the issues discussed by the people. 68% said that they had watched the report and 84% of these had been distressed by it. The respondents seemed unfamiliar with the Second Channel but expressed the wish to receive this channel at home and learn about both Government and opposition plans and projects.