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NDI: Most Georgians undecided over their political stance

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Thursday, May 14
President of Georgia Giorgi Margvelashvili, head of the opposition Free Democrats Irakli Alasania and Parliament chair Davit Usupashvili are the most liked politicians through the survey conducted by the National Democratic Institute ( NDI).

Apart from these politicians, the figure with the highest rating is the Catholics Patriarch of Georgia Ilia II.

The survey reveals that the greater number of interviewees are unhappy with the current economic situation and 27% of the questioned individuals have not yet decided whether they will participate in the upcoming 2016 parliamentary elections or not.

Nihilism is currently at a record-high in Tbilisi, though the city has always been an epicenter of political developments.

The interviewees also spoke about the influence of former Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili on the current authorities. The approach is acceptable by the Georgian Dream coalition supporters, while detractors protest such interference.

"The electoral playing field is wide open and no party is strongly ahead in Georgia," said Laura Thornton, NDI’s senior director in Georgia. “Georgians are undecided about their political support, presenting an opportunity for all parties to spend the next year and a half leading up to the parliamentary elections earning citizens’ backing through responsive platforms and policies.”

Party-affiliation shapes the way Georgians view their household and the country, with Georgian Dream supporters far more likely than other respondents to perceive the government as making changes that matter to them (76 percent Georgian Dream party supporters versus 44 percent National average), their households as better off (27 percent Georgian Dream party supporters versus 11 percent National average), and the country moving in the right direction (52 percent Georgian Dream party supporters versus 23 percent national average). However, supports of both the Georgian Dream party and the opposition groups are equally likely to identify Russia as a “negative influence.”

Overall, citizens consider the ministries to be performing well, with the Ministry for Labor, Healthcare, and Social Affairs perceived as performing best (43 percent). The Ministry of Finance is perceived as having the poorest performance (6 percent). Parliament also has a low approval rating, with only 10 percent judging its work favorably. The Georgian police’s performance has also dropped significantly down to 33 percent from more than 60 percent in 2010.

Public figures with the highest approval ratings are the Patriarch Ilia II (87 percent), President Giorgi Margvelashvili (52 percent), and opposition Free Democrat leader Irakli Alasania (51 percent). With regard to other prominent figures, the majority of Georgians believed that former Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili should either return to politics in an official capacity (30 percent) or not be involved in decision-making at all (41 percent). Only 6 percent believed he should make decisions within an unofficial capacity.

Commenting on the outcomes, Finance Minister revealed he does not wholly trust the results of the polls conducted by the NDI. He stated that the results of the survey carried out by the organization in 2012 did not reflect the final results of the elections.

The Minister stressed that his ministry does its utmost to provide positive outcomes with regards to the country’s economic advancement.

In contrast, the opposition United National Movement member Shalva Londaridze declared his trust in the survey and stressed that the results highlight the importance of the current economic crisis in the country.

“The survey is evidence that the public no longer trusts the government, which has no plan as to how to escape from the current economic hardship. We have the plan,” Londaridze states.

Member of the Democratic Movement-United Georgia Gigla Baramidze claims that the survey was drafted at the United States Embassy in Tbilisi and does not reflect the real situation.

According to the NDI, the results reflect data collected March 27-April 19 through face-to-face interviews with 4,360 men. The average margin of error is +/- 2.3 percent.