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Unemployment remains a burning issue for Georgians

By Keti Arjevanidze
Thursday, December 13
The National Democratic Institute (NDI) released a survey of public opinion carried out November 14-25, 2012 in Georgia, which revealed that the most important national issue for Georgians is still unemployment. Today, over 50% of the 1,947 interviewees have the same situation as in 2008 and 48 percent of participants of the survey said they are looking for a job.

Kakha Sakandelidze, the Minister of Employment, said one ministry is not able to solve the problem. “The country’s economical development plays an essential role for eradicating unemployment,” the minister explained.

NDI covered variety of topics including national and local issues, democracy, reforms and elections, current events, parliament and women’s participation, foreign relations, media and demographics.

Affordable healthcare also appeared among the important national issues, followed by territorial integrity.

According to Davit Lomidze, Deputy Healthcare Minister, reforms aiming at affordable healthcare are underway. “The government has already planned events regarding the issue, the budget gives us an opportunity to start and increase various financial benefits, including pensions,” Lomidze said.

The most significant local issue for 66% of Tbilisi’s residents is the linkage of trash collection and electricity bills. The cost of communal services comes in second in the section of important local issues. For 60% of those questioned, negligence on behalf of politicians towards local issues is very high.

According to the data, 41% think that Georgia is democratic, but still suggests the necessity for improvement. Most of the interviewees define democracy as freedom of speech others - equality before the law, defence of human rights and so on.

NDI’s country director in Georgia, Luis Navarro, said that since NDI’s last poll in August, Georgians made history by achieving their first democratic electoral transfer of power. “A majority of Georgians assess the elections as well-run and their country as headed in the right direction, while their priority issues and views of democracy have largely remained the same,” Navarro stated.

Data showed that for 51% of interviewees, Georgia is mainly going in the right direction.

In the section of foreign affairs, 79 % surveyed said they are not satisfied with the current relationship with Russia. However, 40% agreed that Russia is a threat for Georgia, while 22% think the opposite.

The Georgian government’s stated goal to join the EU was approved by 77% and 71% also approved of government’s goal to join NATO.

Economic analyst, Demur Giorkhelidze, estimated the promises given by the Georgian Dream in the election period saying that there is no threat of a lack of resources and that realization of these promises is realistic.

Healthcare, agricultural and pension reforms were identified as the top three most expected reforms in the next six months.

96% of the surveyed said that they were aware of the video of inmates’ torture released in September, 2012 and highlighted steps the new government should take towards the issue; according to 47% of the respondents, both the case and the activities of the previous government members should be investigated.

According to the data, 79% of the Georgian population thinks that the parliamentary elections on October 1st were well conducted, 12% considers that the election involved falsification. Although 96% said that they did not encounter any kind of problems with the voter’s list.

NDI’s survey-work was financed by the Swedish International development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) and carried out by the Caucasus research Resource Center (CRRC).