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NDI survey: Economic hardship above territorial integrity

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Tuesday, May 12
For the first time since 2008 the territorial integrity issue is not in the top three national crisis topics, the recent survey conducted by the National Democratic Institute ( NDI) reads.

The survey that was conducted from March 27-April 19 through face-to-face interviews with 4,360 individuals in Georgia reveals that social issues are the priority for most of the surveyed people.

The NDI representatives believe that the government and relevant bodies should show more interest in matters which are concerning people.

"Above all else, Georgians are concerned about the bread and butter issues of jobs, prices and providing for themselves and their families," said Laura Thornton, NDI’s senior director in Georgia.

“In general, there is an increase in pessimism about the direction the country is going, particularly with regard to the economy, presenting an important opportunity for political leaders to craft more effective policy prescriptions to address these concerns.”

The survey found that only about a quarter (23 percent) of Georgians feel the country is moving in the right direction, down from 40 percent in August 2014.

For the first time, more citizens believe the government is not making decisions that matter to them (49 percent) than those who believe it is (44 percent). Communication between parliamentarians and constituents remains weak, and citizens have low expectations with regard to their representatives.

The view is not entirely pessimistic, however. The majority of Georgians are satisfied with the public service they have received, and the vast majority (90 percent) of those who have used government offered health insurance reported that they were very satisfied or satisfied.

Based on the survey Georgian citizens continue to support democracy, strong opposition voices, and minority rights, as well as more proactive measures to increase women’s political participation in politics, with 68 percent of citizens supporting mandatory gender quotas for parliament. Most Georgians continue to support Euro-Atlantic integration and perceive Russia as a threat.

The opposition United National Movement (UNM) claims that the survey reflected the people’s negative attitude to the current government of Georgia.

“The survey is one of the signals that the current Georgian authorities are disabled,” the party members say.

Meanwhile, the majority representatives stress that the economic problems are due to a series of “foreign shocks”.

The majority member Manana Kobakhidze says that the government is focused on attracting foreign investments that will create an easy situation with regards to the national currency depreciation, as well as provide new jobs.