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NDI: Strong support to the EU-Atlantic path remains

By Tea Mariamidze
Tuesday, August 26
A survey of public opinion in Georgia was released by the National Democratic Institute (NDI) on August 26. The survey shows that nearly 60 percent of Georgians believe the country should join the European Union (EU) rather than the Eurasian Customs Union and are highly supportive (78 percent) of the Georgian government’s stated goal to join the EU. The presentation was held without Luis Navaro, whose official term as a Director of NDI Georgia has expired.

A significant number of Georgians, 79 percent, are aware that Georgia signed an association agreement with the EU on June 27. Sixty-nine percent of respondents approve of this development, with 8 percent disapproving and 22 percent with no opinion.

Employment and the economy continue to be among the most pressing issues, with 63 percent citing jobs and 32 percent citing poverty as their priority issues.

Regarding the elections, 74 percent believe that local government elections were well conducted. Sixty-three percent of Georgians disapprove of a senior religious figure calling upon citizens to vote against a specific party. Forty-four percent approve of the Central Election Commission’s (CEC) request that the bishop in question clarify his remarks. Ultimately, 73 percent believe that the church should not be engaged in election campaigning.

“Georgians’ support for EU membership and Euro-Atlantic integration remains strong. In relation to domestic issues, while local government elections were viewed as being well conducted, progress on improving the economy is seen as slow,” said NDI Interim Country Director Kristina Wilfore.

“Georgians have consistently said that jobs and poverty are the most important national issues facing the country,” she said.

The survey also revealed that 50% of the people questioned believe that the founder of the Georgian Dream coalition Bidzina Ivanishvili is still participating in the management of the country.

The survey looks at issues of public importance, perceptions of democracy and attitudes toward reforms, as well as various domestic and foreign policy issues. The results reflect data collected from July 23 through Aug. 7

3,338 citizens completed the interviews. The survey has an average margin of error of +/-2.9%.NDI’s survey work is funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) and carried out by CRRC-Georgia.

United National Movement member Irma Nadirashvili admits that the survey truly illustrated the public disappointment, the current government’s failure and Bidzina Ivanishvili’s influence on the government. Fellow UNM MP Goka Gabashvili thinks that the only outcome of the current “gridlock” is changing the government.

Government members do not accept the survey. According to MP Irakli Sesiashvili, the Georgian Dream coalition has not agreed with the surveys conducted under the organization, as their outcomes have always stood far from the real situation.

“We hope that under the new leadership, the organization’s activities will be improved and its methodology will become more transparent” Sesiashvili said. The ministers of healthcare and Infrastructure suggested that there were serious achievements in their fields that have been ignored through the survey.

The political part of the opinion poll will be revealed on Wednesday.