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NDI Survey: Unemployment Biggest Concern for Georgians

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Tuesday, October 11
For Georgian people currently socio-economic matters are far more serious than political affairs. Based on a poll carried out by Caucasus Resource Research Centers (CRRC) for the US National Democratic Institute (NDI), released on October 10.

61% of respondents report that their main concern is unemployment, followed by the increase in prices and territorial integrity only in third place.

The survey showed a trend in declining numbers of those who identify territorial integrity as the top issue for them. Over time, 38% said this was the major problem facing the country in a similar survey in March 2011 whereas only to 31% said this in September. The figure stood at 45% in July, 2010 and at 49% in December 2009 showing how pronounced the downward trend has become.

“Economic issues remain the primary concern and focus of Georgian citizens. While Georgians have a more optimistic view of democratic progress, they want increased accountability from their government,” Luis Navarro, NDI country director in Georgia, said while presenting the survey results on October 10.

Regarding foreign policy, the NDI survey shows that the greatest part of those questioned support a dialogue with Russia. The survey finds that 63% of respondents say Russia's current policy poses a threat to Georgia's sovereignty.

The government's stated goal to join NATO and EU is supported by 74% and 76% of respondents, respectively. Around 46% of respondents either fully or partially disapprove of Georgia’s currently policy towards Russia. This figure stood at 49% in March and was up to 60% in July, 2010.

According to the NDI survey, 69% of respondents dislike the amendments to the Civil Code, which granted legal status to each confession in Georgia. A full 81% believes consultations should have been carried out with the population on this issue, and 86% - that consultations should have been held with the Georgian Orthodox Church. From respondents, 78% believe that the decision was hastily made.

On the issue of the relocation of parliament the NDI survey shows that 51% of respondents support the relocation of parliament to Kutaisi, in Imereti region whereas only 28% of respondents dislike the decision. A majority, 64% of respondents, believes the relocation of parliament to Kutaisi will have positive impact on the city.

Regarding the proposed growth of the number of MPs in parliament as part of changes to the electoral code, 60% of those questioned are against the increase.

As a representative of the majority ruling party, the UNM, Nugzar Tsiklauri told The Messenger he has not yet familiarized himself with the findings however he mentioned that the NDI polls are interesting but not essential reading for the authorities: “we create politics and policy initiatives based on the Georgian population’s needs and demands and not on the results shown in polls, however they are interesting for us.”

There was no surprise amongst the Georgian opposition that unemployment and social problems were named top issues, taking this as proof that small and middle businesses should be much assisted more.

According to a member of the Christian-Democrats, Giorgi Akhvlediani, the results once again revealed that the authorities' claims that they have reduced unemployment and that there is a better economic situation in the country is just a PR stunt. “The authorities have not much they can be proud of,“ Akhvledini told The Messenger.

As a member of Our Georgia-Free Democrats, Irakli Chikovani, told us, such surveys express the general mood of society and to this end they are interesting. Together with social issues and the authorities shortcomings in this area, he paid attention to political issues and mentioned that “the fact that a majority of Georgians are against the growth in MPs coincides with our opposition view, however the current government is not interested in what its people think.”