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Poll Shows Two-Way Parliamentary Race
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 8 Dec.'11 / 23:53

A new public opinion survey shows a close two-way race between the ruling party and billionaire-turned-politician Bidzina Ivanishvili’s yet to be created party with other parties trailing far behind if the parliamentary elections were held tomorrow.

The survey was fielded by the Tbilisi-based Institute of Social Studies and Analysis (ISSA), chaired by Iago Kachkachishvili, a sociologist and professor at Tbilisi State University.

The survey was commissioned by Georgian Development Research Institute (GDRI), a newly created think-tank group. Ivanishvili is among donors of the group, its founders say.

According to ISSA’s polls, carried out on November 11-22 in which 3,000 respondents were surveyed, the ruling National Movement would win 36% of votes, followed by Ivanishvili’s planned party with 32% if the elections were held tomorrow.

The Christian-Democratic Movement (CDM), which in various previous polls was reportedly the most popular party after the National Movement, is third with 4.3%, according to the ISSA survey which has a margin of error of 1.8%.

No other party manages to clear 5% threshold needed for endorsing members in the parliament through proportional, party-list system, according to this survey.

A separate poll, leaked to the press a day earlier, shows somewhat a similar trend of two-way race between the ruling party and Ivanishvili; but percentage points differ from those in ISSA’s survey. According to one fragment of leaked poll, fielded by the Tbilisi-based Institute for Polling and Marketing (IPM) for the International Republican Institute (IRI) the ruling party would win with 42%, followed by Ivanishvili’s planned party with 18% and Christian-Democratic Movement with 8%.

Findings of ISSA’s polls were unveiled at a presentation in Tbilisi on December 7 in presence of representatives from civil society, foreign diplomatic corps and media – a rare case in Georgia when political ratings are being made public.

According to the ISSA’s survey 12.8% of respondents are undecided which party to vote for if elections were held tomorrow. Iago Kachkachishvili, a pollster behind the survey, said during the presentation that the figure was much lower than in similar polls conducted by ISSA previously.

The poll found Ivanishvili’s planned party and Christian-Democratic Movement tied at slightly over 12% each when respondents asked about their second choice party; the ruling party was named as their second choice by 8.8% of respondents.

Kachkachishvili says that new player on Georgia’s political scene, Bidzina Ivanishvili, who plans to launch a public movement – a grassroots movement to serve as a platform for his political activities before establishing the political party – on December 11, has mainly capitalized on disillusioned voters, who before Ivanishvili’s decision to come into politics were disengaged from political processes, as well as on supporters of other opposition parties, who after Ivanishvili’s coming into politics switched sides in favor of the billionaire philanthropist. Kachkachishvili also said that the poll revealed a sign that even some of the ruling party’s supporters might now vote for Ivanishvili; he, however, made it clear that it was only a sign so far, not a trend.

The poll showed Ivanishvili’s planned political party leading in his native region of Imereti, as well as in Mtskheta-Mtianeti region and the capital Tbilisi, while the ruling party retains strong positions in Samtskhe-Javakheti, Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti and Kvemo Kartli regions.

Ivanishvili named Irakli Alasania’s Our Georgia-Free Democrats (OGFD) and Republican Party, led by Davit Usupashvili, as his partners with whom he would run jointly in the next year’s parliamentary elections. Neither of these two parties separately have a chance to clear 5% threshold, according to the poll, with OGFD having only 1.5% and the Republican Party less than 1%. According to the poll, 39.5% of respondents said Ivanishvili’s pick of these two parties was a right choice against 30% thinking opposite.
The same survey also found that 39% of respondents are positive about President Saakashvili “staying in power” after his second and final term in office expires in 2013 against 35.8% responding negatively.

Asked whom they want to see as PM after 2013, 26.1% named Ivanishvili and 24.2% - Saakashvili.

According to the survey 77.7% of respondents said they would cast ballot in the 2012 parliamentary elections.

75.7% of respondents said the change of government should only take place through elections, with revolutionary scenario, including in case of ballot fraud, having only 6.8% support.

59.1% of respondents think that 2012 parliamentary elections will be faire against 15.4% who think opposite.

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