- Gov’t in “strong position” ahead of elections;
- Majority disapproves Georgia’s Russia policy;
- Opposition’s Russia contacts disapproved;
- Jobs, poverty, healthcare are top issues;
Although majority of Georgians are in favor of NATO membership, the level of support seems to be reduced in last twenty months, according to the recent public opinion survey.
26% of respondents say that they fully support Georgia's NATO membership and 36% say - somewhat support, according to the poll carried out by Caucasus Resource Research Centers (CRRC) for U.S. National Democratic Institute (NDI) in a period between April 11 and April 26.
10% responded that they equally support and do not support; 7% - somewhat not support and 9% - don't support at all. 9% said they do not know.
In a poll by IPM for U.S. International Republican Institute (IRI) in September, 2008, 69% of respondents were fully supportive to Georgia’s NATO membership, plus 17% saying that they somewhat support, with only 8% either strongly or somewhat opposing.
In IRI’s similar poll in October, 2009 54% of respondents were fully supportive to Georgia's NATO membership with 21% saying they somewhat support and 12% were either strongly or somewhat against.
NDI-commissioned public opinion survey in which 2,378 citizens were interviewed was made public on May 6. It gives a picture of voters’ attitude towards broad range of issues, involving, among other issues, politics, democracy, media and foreign relations. The survey, however, does not include political party and Tbilisi mayoral candidates’ ratings ahead of the May 30 local elections.
In a plebiscite held in Georgia in January, 2008, 72.5% of voters cast ballot for NATO membership.
In NDI's survey the issue of NATO in itself is in the middle of list of those fifteen issues that matter Georgian citizens most, falling behind jobs, territorial integrity, poverty, pensions, affordable healthcare and relations with Russia.
Jobs, followed by territorial integrity are prioritized as the most important issues by respondents.
On the local level, most of the respondents prioritize cost of communal service as the most important issue, followed by road infrastructure.
Majority of respondents, according to the poll, is critical about the Georgian government’s current policy towards Russia.
28% of respondents say they partially disapprove it and 24% saying - fully disapprove. 13% say they do not know.
32% of respondents either fully (7%) or partially (25%) approve Georgia’s current policy towards Russia.
Majority of respondents are also critical about the Georgian opposition's engagement with Russia with 62% saying that they disapprove ex-PM Zurab Nogaideli's travel to Moscow to meet with Russia's PM Vladimir Putin in December, 2009 and 59% disapproving a similar move by ex-parliamentary speaker, Nino Burjanadze, in March, 2010.
Leader of Alliance for Georgia, Irakli Alasania, who is running for Tbilisi mayor, met with Russia's Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, in February on a sideline of Munich security conference. 38% of respondents say they disapprove this meeting between Lavrov and Alasania with 22% approving it and 34% saying do not know and 7% refused to answer. The Georgian media covered meeting of Nogaideli and Burjanadze with Putin much more extensively, than the one of Alasania with Lavrov.
Also on Russia, majority of respondents say they approve re-opening of Kazbegi-Zemo Larsi border crossing point between Russia and Georgia (61%) and even more are in favor of resumption of direct flights between Tbilisi and Moscow (82%).
Gov’t in “Strong Position”
On a question which direction Georgia is going in – 12% of respondents chose the answer “definitely going in the right direction” and 41% said: “going mainly in the right direction.”
In a similar poll a year ago 29% of surveyed said that Georgia was going mainly in right direction.
Luis Navarro, NDI's resident director for Georgia, said at a presentation of the survey, that these results indicated the government was in “a strong position” ahead of the May 30 local elections.