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Georgian Government Continues the Anti-Western Policy

By Malkhaz Matsaberidze
Friday, May 5, 2023
The public opinion survey published by the International Republican Institute (IRI) on April 25 had great political resonance. The results of the study showed that the anti-Western policy that has been going on for years was not only ineffective but also counterproductive. The number of supporters of integration into Western structures has increased, and the absolute majority considers Russia a hostile power and condemns the government's pro-Russian policy.

When commenting on the results of the research, the government representatives used the traditional 'solution' - they declared the research as a whole falsified, 'absurd flat numbers' and 'fun research'. The results of the survey were not welcomed by some opposition parties, who are unhappy with their low ranking in the survey. However, probably no party will be satisfied with the party ratings presented in the study.

The research has clearly shown that integration into Western structures is a historical choice of the Georgian people. 89% of respondents are in favor of Georgia joining the European Union (75% - fully, 14% - partially). If we compare the similar survey conducted in March 2022, the number of supporters of joining the European Union has increased by 5%. 77% of respondents are in favor of joining the European Union, even if it leads to the severance of trade relations with Russia. However, the policy of the Georgian Dream tied Georgia to Russia economically. 80% of respondents support joining NATO (65% strongly, 15% somewhat).

Such results of the survey were observed despite the ongoing anti-Western propaganda carried out by representatives of the Georgian Dream and members of the People's Force formally separated from it.

The main message of this propaganda even today is that the West is trying to "draw Georgia into a war" against Russia, and that is why they did not give it the status of a candidate for the European Union, they did not lack personal insults for European parliamentarians and American politicians, who are actually friends of Georgia.

The absolute majority of the population of Georgia did not believe that 'Georgia's western orientation means war', that there is no choice between 'the West' and 'peace'. The choice is made between Europe and the Russian swamp.

The survey showed that the majority of the public does not like Russia either politically or economically. 87% of respondents consider Russia to be the biggest political threat to Georgia. Government officials claimed that politics and the economy should be separated from each other, but 76% of respondents consider Russia to be the biggest economic threat to Georgia. The interviewees do not like the settlement of tens of thousands of Russian citizens in Georgia, their covert purchase of the real estate, and the start of uncertain business activities.

They do not like that the current government of Georgia not only does not oppose it but also promotes it. It has been clear for a long time that an openly Russia-oriented government is unacceptable to society. "Georgian Dream" also understands this well and talks about the fulfillment of 12 requirements of the European Union.

The IRI survey revealed a split in public opinion regarding the foreign vector of the Georgian Dream. According to 45% of respondents, "Georgian Dream's foreign policy is pro-Russian (25% - pro-Russian, 20% - more pro-Russian), and according to 38%, it is pro-Western (17% - pro-Western, 21% - more pro-Western). 17% of respondents refused to answer this question.

The public opinion poll also showed that the majority did not support the adoption of the 'foreign agents' law, and 61% support the transfer of Mikheil Saakashvili to another country for treatment. "Georgian Dream" does not intend to release Saakashvili, but continues to talk about foreign agents. It should be noted that Mikheil Saakashvili's approval rating was 36% and exceeded Bidzina Ivanishvili by one percentage point.

According to the IRI research, if the elections were held at the end of March, 19% of respondents would support the Georgian Dream, 14% would support the National Movement, followed by two parties with a 3% rating - "For Georgia" (Gakharia) and 'Girchi - more freedom'. 4 parties with a 2% rating - Labor, Lelo, Girchi, and Strategy-Agmashenebeli.

These indicators are catastrophic for the Georgian Dream, although it is ahead of all other parties, but in total the opposition exceeds it several times. But the reality of the upcoming elections should be taken into account - the parliamentary elections of 2024 will be held in the presence of a 5% threshold.

According to the current ratings, only two parties Georgian Dream and National Movement pass this threshold, while the rest of the parties remain beyond the threshold. With large financial and administrative resources in the hands of the Georgian Dream, it allows it to think about another victory.

In such conditions, the issue of unification is still a serious problem for the opposition. The National Movement will try to find allies, although several small pro-Western parties may still try to create a "third political center", with the argument that the voters do not want the Georgian Dream, but neither do they want the return of the "National Movement" to power. The point of view of 42% of the respondents that their interests are not expressed by any political party should be reported to the opposition.