The messenger logo

Poll fails to bring clarity

By Messenger Staff
Thursday, March 29
The ruling United National Movement (UNM) party and its rivals in the opposition have returned to debating U.S. President Barack Obama's words from late January – that he supports a “democratic transfer of power” in Georgia.

The opposition claims that the Americans wish to see the "old" power replaced by a new one. The UNM maintains that Obama was referring to a transfer of power between individuals, not the administration itself. From time to time, private organizations conduct public opinion surveys in an attempt to clarify how Georgians themselves are feeling about their government, their political system, and the upcoming elections.

A poll was recently conducted by the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and its semi-official results have already created turmoil across the political spectrum. While NDI commissioned the survey and analyzed the results, with financial support from the Swedish Development Agency and the Caucasus Resource Research Centre, the practical fieldwork was conducted by Georgian organizations. Some political analysts, such as Soso Tsiskarishvili, believe that this may have affected the results, as respondents may have been unwilling to answer truthfully when they saw that their names and opinions were being recorded.

The survey was performed between February 22 and March 5, in face-to-face interviews with 3,161 people.

Observers point to perceived discrepancies in the results as a reason to be skeptical, especially since some of the survey results were only revealed to political parties themselves. For instance, the UNM claims to have received 47% support in a question that asked about voter preference if the elections were held tomorrow, while opposition coalition Georgian Dream had 10%, the Christian Democrat had 3%, and the rest of the political parties received about 5% total. So 35% is missing. The results also show that 70% of respondents want Georgian Dream leader Bidzina Ivanishvili’s Georgian citizenship restored, whereas only 12% would vote for him as President.

Georgian Dream has expressed suspicion about the reliability of the survey, while the UNM is satisfied with the polls, as are the Christian Democrats. Some, like the Labour Party and Alia newspaper commented that the results are determined by U.S. policy towards Georgia. So what could have clarified the country's thinking about its government only made the situation more divisive and confusing.