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Can NDIís figures be trusted?

By Messenger Staff
Monday, May 12
The American-based National Democratic Institute conducted a new survey in Georgia and the results of the survey created ample ground for debate. One thing to consider is that the results of the polling are generally accepted more positively by those who demonstrate a better performance in the results. Whereas those entities that do poorly tend to dismiss the survey results as being bias or inaccurate.

NDI often publishes the polling results for the various elections in Georgia. However, sometimes there is a discrepancy between the results of survey and actual results of the elections.

For instance, before the 2012 parliamentary elections, NDI predicted a victory for the United National Movement. However the UNM lost the elections in a landslide. Therefore, how reliable can the results of the latest survey be? Though NDI is detecting the answers of the possible voters.

NDI showed that if the elections were held on the next day, 60% would have participated. Out of this number about 40% would have voted for current administration and 12% for UNM. Other parties received 6% or less support.

Based on the survey, the opposition parties believe that holding a second round of local elections could become necessary. According to Georgian law, a candidate has to receive 50% +1 of the votes in the local elections. So, based on the NDI survey, it would be difficult for any of the candidates to collect enough votes to win the first round.

NDIís polling results reflected the situation at the beginning of April when the election campaign had not yet been launched. Presumably, the mood of the electorate will be changing. But it is hard to predict in which direction the change will develop. It is noteworthy to mention that by adopting the anti-discrimination law, the Georgian Dream coalition potentially stands to lose a few votes. This is because the Georgian Orthodox Church did not approve of the language contained within this legislation that pertained to sexual minorities. As a result, some representatives of the church publicly threatened to persuade their loyal constituency not to support the party in the future.

In line with its increasing influence on Georgian politics, the churchís faulty understanding of the language contained within the new legislation, and its subsequent meddling in the political process of the parliament, undermines the overall support of Georgiaís European choice. This is unfortunate, as this only serves to feed Russian ambitions to wield influence over the Georgian voting base, and push Georgian hearts and minds northward.

The situation in the cities where mayors should be elected via direct voting is also very controversial. For instance, in Tbilisi, the Georgian Dream candidate Davit Narmania is leading with 38% support. UNM candidate Nika Melia is supported by 17% of those polled; Kakha Kukava Ė 24%, and 26 % support Gia Gachechiladze from the Green party. A number of analysts believe that Tbilisi will need a second round of elections before a new mayor is selected.

In all cities where mayors should be elected directly, Georgian Dream candidates also hold leading positions, but 50% + 1 of the votes is not guaranteed for them. For instance, in Akhaltsikhe, Telavi, Potiu, Batumi, as well as in Kutaisi, Rustavi, Gori and Zugdidi, the Georgian Dream candidates enjoy less than 50% support.

Only in Ambrolauri, Ozurgeti and Mtskheta do Georgian Dream candidates have more than 50% support.

In the case that a second round of elections is held, it is highly unlikely that the opposition will unite and all the votes go to their direction.

However, it is still early to guess how the situation will develop.