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NDI final pre-election polls receive mixed reviews

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Thursday, September 6
Final pre-election polls conducted by the National Democratic Institute( NDI) shows that jobs remain the most important issue and likely turnout is high for the coming parliamentary elections.

Employment and healthcare issues are still essential for GeorgiansĖ more significant than territorial integrity. In the survey 57% mentioned jobs, 35% affordable healthcare and 34% territorial integrity as among their top three priority issues.

77% of respondents indicated that they are likely to vote if parliamentary elections were held tomorrow. It should be pointed out that this represents a 26% increase since NDIís September 2011 poll.

Asked whether Georgia is a democratic now, 42% of respondents said yes compared to 40% who said no. According to NDI, these figures represent a more optimistic assessment than what was reflected in NDIís June survey when 28% said yes and 43% no.

ďSince our last poll in June, the opinions of Georgian citizens have become more optimistic with regard to democracy. However, among those that are aware, there is disapproval of the property seizure of Maestro and Global TV satellite dishes,Ē NDIís country director in Georgia, Luis Navaro said, adding that there is strong support for the new Must Carry principles being extended beyond election day. In addition, there has already been a measurable impact on the channels available to viewers.

Concerning the upcoming elections, a greater number of respondents believe that the elections will be well conducted (nearly 51%). According to the respondents, the three biggest barriers to free and fair elections are: the bribing of voters, problems related with votersí lists and ballot stuffing.

The survey has once again revealed that voters lack information. 47% of respondents were aware of the governmentís four-year plan put forth by Prime Minister Vano Merabishvili but 46% had no information concerning the plan. This situation was worse with regard to the main opponent of the United National Movement, the Georgian Dream coalition. Only 22% of respondents had information regarding the future plans of the coalition when 66% had no information on the Georgian Dreamís aims. (63%) positively assessed the appointment of Vano Merabishvili as the Prime Minister and believed that the post has become more influential after Merabishviliís appointment.

On the question of what would you do if the Georgian Dreamís leader, Bidzina Ivanishvili call for you to participate in a street rally if the coalition considers the elections to be falsified, 63% responded that they will not take part in the rallies and 17% stated yes. However, large segment of respondents (41-44%) disapproved of the actions carried out by the State Audit Agency and the Prosecutorís Office against Ivanishvili.

89% of the respondents disapproved of Georgiaís current relationship with Russia. Regarding NATO the perspective, it was revealed that Georgian citizens are less hopeful concerning Georgiaís membership to NATO in the near future. 0% believe Georgia will be a NATO member this year, 7% believe that it might happen in 2013, 26% think that Georgia might be a member of NATO in or after 2014 and 10% believe that Georgia will never be a NATO member.

The assessments made regarding the latest NDI polls were largely positive on behalf of the United National Movement. Representatives of the UNM have always stated that NDI outcomes are fairly accurate. However, the Georgian Dream has already exhibited distrust towards the NDI surveys. According to the Georgian Dream, the surveys conducted by NDI do not reflect reality.