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NDI polls reveal Georgians’ low awareness of key reforms

By Tea Mariamidze
Thursday, July 27
The National Democratic Institute (NDI) and CRRC Georgia have released the results of their poll, which shows that only 32 percent of Georgians were aware of the process to change the constitution, and the majority of them (59 percent) reported they do not have enough information about the changes. Only 2 percent participated in Parliament’s public meetings. Further, a mere 6 percent of those who are aware of the new constitution say the changes reflect the people’s opinions.

The results of the survey regarding public attitudes in Georgia were released on Wednesday and focuses on the country’s direction, national and local issues, the performance of the government, foreign policy, current events and ongoing reforms.

Laura Thornton, NDI’s Senior Director, believes that more time, deliberations, and research are needed to make changes to the country’s most significant document, when so few are aware or have been consulted.

“Parliament would be well-advised to go back to the drawing table and create an inclusive process to consider constitutional changes that ensures broad public participation and input,” she stated.

Furthermore, the survey revealed that half of Georgians (52 percent) were aware of the new legislation revoking the status of seven self-governing cities and merging them with the municipalities, while 44 percent was unaware. The majority of citizens (59 percent) disapprove of the merging of these cities and having them governed by one body, and only 16 percent approve. Moreover, roughly half of the queried people believe it will have a negative impact on the country (45 percent) while only 11 percent see a positive impact.

As for the performance of the national government and local institutions, they received only an average assessment from the interviewed individuals. The national government received only a 10 percent favorable ranking, while local government is at 16 percent with a more positive performance assessment.

Moreover, the majority believes there is a lack of professionalism in local government, and a plurality of respondents agrees that there is nepotism and corruption in local government, with a higher negative assessment in Tbilisi. While few people have interacted with local government institutions, the majority of those who have reports that they were treated with respect and that officials were competent.

The polls show that unemployment, poverty, territorial integrity, rising prices/inflation, and healthcare are top problems while leading local issues are roads, environment, water, gas, and traffic. In Tbilisi, the leading concern is pollution.

As for Georgia’s foreign policy, 77 percent of respondents support Georgia's goal to become a member of the EU, while for 16 percent it is unacceptable. Regarding Georgia’s NATO membership aim, the number of supporters here is 66 percent while the idea is unacceptable for 23 percent.

Also, 23 percent of respondents agree that Georgia should join the Eurasian Union, while 62 percent of respondents believe Georgia should join the EU.

Moreover, 49 percent of the NDI’s respondents agree that they will benefit from visa-free travel with the EU, while 42 percent disagree with the opinion.

The results reflect data collected from June 18 to July 9, through face-to-face interviews with a nationwide representative sample of Georgia’s adult population (excluding the occupied territories) which included 2,261 completed interviews.

The ruling Georgian Dream (GD) party does not trust the NDI Poll results, as always.

“Often these studies are beyond reality, therefore, concrete conclusions cannot be made over these results,” Mamuka Mdinaradze from the majority stated.

However, the opposition parties believe the study confirms that there are a lot of problems in the country.

“We can see that the country is not going forward, no prospects can be seen that the government intends to solve problems,” Salome Samadashvili from the United National Movement stressed.

Another opposition party, European Georgia, says society disapproves of the work carried out by the government.

“It is important to offer concrete ways out of this complicated situation. It is not new that the population does not like the government,” Elene Khoshtaria from European Georgia says.