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Saakashvili does well in Public Poll

By Salome Modebadze
Monday, October 25
On October 22 American based Greenberg Quinlan Rosner, one of the world’s premier research and strategic consulting firms published the results of September-October public survey in Georgia. The research covering current political and social issues in Georgia expressed the views of 1200 respondents interviewed face-to-face by the organisation from September 28 to October 2, 2010.

To the question which direction is Georgia going in nowadays, 58% of the respondents were of the opinion that the country is going in the right direction, while 26% believed the opposite. 78% of the interviewed citizens stated they felt informed about the constitutional reforms, of which 50 % viewed the changes as positive, with only 16% believing them to be negative.

67% of those interviewed would like to keep the President Saakashvili’s political course while 28% expressed a different position on the issue. 83% of the interviewees approves of Saakashvili’s political development, which is the highest percentage since 2004; 15 % disapproved of the President’s activities. The activities of the Mayor of Tbilisi, Gigi Ugulava gained the approval of by 75% of the respondents – almost exactly the same figure as on Election Day earlier this year. The survey results also revealed that the approval rating of the President and the ruling United National Movement increased by 13% over the last six months, while the number of the people critical of the Government’s policies decreased by 10%. 54% of respondents said they would vote at the polling stations if elections were held in Georgia tomorrow.

Interestingly, 62% of the respondents disapproved of the activities of the opposition, while just 25% approved of them. Approval ratings of the main opposition leaders were: Giorgi Targamadze (Christian-Democratic Movement) – 47%; Irakli Alasania (Our Georgia-Free Democrats) – 40%; Shalva Natelashvili (Labor Party) – 22%; Kakha Shartava (National Forum) – 11%; Levan Gachechiladze (Georgian Party) – 9% and Gogi Topadze (Industry Will Save Georgia) – 8%.

Greenberg Quinlan Rosner’s extensive experience working with issue advocacy organisations throughout the US and around the world has helped countless non-profit organisations, NGOs, and labour groups develop successful messages to win support for their ideas and realise their goals in a diverse range of issue areas, business sectors, and demographic segments, and have research experience in over 80 countries on six continents around the world. Their clients include some of the world’s most prominent progressive leaders, political candidates, issue advocates, organisation directors, and business executives. Vanguard of change, The United National Movement as well as the President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili and the Mayor of Tbilisi Gigi Ugulava are all individual international clients of Greenberg Quinlan Rosner listed officially on the organisation’s website.

Reactions of Georgian political circles to the report provided by the American organisation have been mixed. Commenting on the Greenberg Quinlan Rosner public survey, parliamentary chair, Davit Bakradze pointed out that the research confirmed the trust that the population has in the political course and reforms initiated by the current government. Calling it “a serious responsibility” to complete all the ongoing projects, Bakradze stressed that much more must be done for the people’s welfare, employment, economical development and solution of social problems. The Christian-Democratic Movement expressed their complete confidence in “one of the influential organisations” with no doubts about the results of their survey. “We wouldn’t have other results,” member of CDM, Nika Laliashvili said, commenting that all the activities carried out by CDM were reflected objectively in the report.

Leader of Our Georgia-Free Democrats, Irakli Alasania refused to comment on the report, which in his opinion was financed by the United National Union (UNM). “The only thing I would like to say is that the number of people living in poverty has exceeded one million and 55% of people are still unemployed in our country,” Alasania told the media claiming that Georgian society is waiting for the real alternative survey.

The Labor Party supposed that the results of the Greenberg Quinlan Rosner survey were written at Mikheil Saakashvili’s cabinet, pointing out that the UNM had hired this very company for the presidential and parliamentary elections in 2008 and the self-Government elections in 2010. They accused the research as being fabricated. “Whatever they publish, the truth is that the leader of the Labor Party Shalva Natelashvili has been playing the leading role in the political life of Georgia with the non-precedent support of the society,” Giorgi Gugava the political Secretary of the party told the media.

Political analyst Ramaz Sakvarelidze suggested that the Greenberg Quinlan Rosner survey fully took into account their clients’ wishes. “Georgian society is aware of the Government’s desire thus they answered the American company’s questions in the most appropriate way,” the analyst explained to the media. Another analyst Soso Tsiskarishvili wondered how much the President and the Mayor of Georgia have paid Greenberg Quinlan Rosner for the public surveys. “There is no reason to mistrust this American organisation because generally most of society is afraid of expressing their real opinion,” Tsiskarishvili said doubting the necessity of conducting a survey at this time, since in our country such research is usually only conducted during election periods.