70% of respondents are in favor of restoration of Georgian citizenship to billionaire opposition politician Bidzina Ivanishvili, according to a recent public opinion survey released on March 21.
That is against just 8% who say that Ivanishvili’s citizenship should not be reinstated with 22% of surveyed saying they “do not know”, according to the poll fielded by Caucasus Resource Research Centers (CRRC) for U.S. National Democratic Institute (NDI) from February 22 to March 5.
Ivanishvili, who was stripped of his Georgian citizenship in October and now remains the French citizen, tries to regain his Georgian passport that will allow him to run for parliament through naturalization. He submitted relevant papers to the authorities on January 5, 2012. According to the law on citizenship, the authorities have to respond within three months after the application was submitted.
According to the poll, 65% of respondents disapproved the authorities’ decision to revoke Ivanishvili’s citizenship against 13%.
The poll represents attitudes of the Georgian public towards broad range of current and policy issues, including about foreign relations, which is carried out twice in year. The poll also includes ratings of political parties, but that part of the survey is never released by NDI to the public, instead it is presented to political parties privately; however as past practice shows segments of those ratings are then usually leaked to the press, but those leaked reports are sketchy and fraught with inaccuracies.
The survey represents face-to-face interviews with a nationwide representative sample of 3,161 respondents with margin of error 3%.
Like previous similar survey six months ago, the recent one also shows that jobs remain the top priority issue for most of the respondents. Territorial integrity and affordable healthcare are other top concerns. But since September, the new survey shows, concerns about rising prices and inflation has dropped.
64% of respondents indicated they are likely to vote if parliamentary elections were held tomorrow, which is a 13% increase since September.
49% of respondents, against 34%, say Georgia is a democracy now. 45% responded yes to the same question in September and 39% said six months ago that Georgia was not a democracy.
62% of respondents either say Georgia is “definitely going in the right direction” or “is going mainly in the right direction”, which is a significant increase from NDI’s similar survey in March, 2011 when the figure stood at just 35% (this question was not included in the survey six months ago). The figure stood at 51% in NDI’s July, 2010 poll.
The poll shows a support to President Saakashvili’s initiative to build a new city, Lazika, on Georgia’s Black Sea coast, with 59% of those aware about such initiative saying they support the idea, against 27%.
The survey shows a strong disapproval of the authorities’ decision in capital city Tbilisi to tie monthly fee for waste collection services to electricity bills. 94% of respondents in Tbilisi say that this decision has worsened situation.
88% of respondents disapprove Georgia’s current state of relationship with Russia and 49% believe Russia is “a real and existing threat to Georgia”; 30% of respondents say that although Russia is a threat, they also believe this threat is “exaggerated.” Only 8% of respondents say that Russia “is not threat to Georgia at all.”
The poll shows strong support to Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations.
Support towards government’s stated goal to join NATO stands at 70% and support towards EU membership is at 74%.