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Poll Shows Ruling Party in Lead, But Georgian Dream Gaining
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 16 Jul.'12 / 11:07

Ruling party, United National Movement (UNM), maintained double-digit lead in June over Georgian Dream opposition coalition, led by Bidzina Ivanishvili, but the latter has gained eight percentage points since late February while ruling party lost 11 percentage points, according to a public opinion survey commissioned by the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and released on July 16.

36% of likely voters said they would vote for the ruling UNM party if the parliamentary elections were held tomorrow, followed by Ivanishvili-led opposition coalition with 18%, according to poll fielded by the Caucasus Resource Research Centers (CRRC) in June.

No other party was gaining 5%, which is required for clearing threshold to endorse members in the Parliament under the party-list, proportional contest, according to the NDI poll, which is based on survey of 6,299 voters across the country and which has a margin of error plus, minus 2%.
 
Christian-Democratic Movement (CDM), which has formally launched its election campaign last week, trailed far behind with 3% in June.

According to the same poll 22% were undecided, almost the same number as it was in February and 16% refused to answer, up from 10% in February and 4% said they would vote for none of the parties.

In NDI’s February poll the ruling party had 47% support, followed by Ivanishvili-led coalition with 10% and CDM with 3%. 

The new poll was conducted couple of weeks before the recent cabinet reshuffle and it is not yet clear what, if any, affect it had on political ratings.

The June poll also found Christian-Democratic Movement (CDM) with 6% when respondents were asked about their second choice of party, followed by the Georgian Dream’s 4% and ruling party’s 2%. 39% said they had no second choice.

Next President

When asked which of the following people they would like the most to see as the next President of Georgia 22% of likely voters chose unspecified ruling party candidate; 20% - unspecified candidate endorsed by Ivanishvili; 25% did not know and 17% refused to answer. Leader of CDM, MP Giorgi Targamadze, had 4% and although knowing that President Saakashvili can no longer run for presidency after his second and final term expires in late 2013, 6% of likely voters still chose to name him as desired President.

Favorability and Job Performance

The poll also includes a survey on how voters respond on a question whether they ‘like’ or ‘dislike’ specific political figures; there are over forty politicians in the list.

Bidzina Ivanishvili is the only politician among key figures, whose standing in this segment of survey increased since February with 46% of respondents saying they ‘like’ him up from 40% four months earlier.

Another important trend in this survey is that President Saakashvili was no longer a leader among the politicians in terms of favorability, which stood at 58% in June, down by 12 percentage points since February.

Tbilisi Mayor, Gigi Ugulava, now leads among the politicians with 60% of favorability, down from 68% in February.

PM Vano Merabishvili, who at the time of survey was the Interior Minister, came third (after Ugulava and Saakashvili) with 55% (63% in February), followed by Parliamentary Chairman Davit Bakradze – 53% (61% in February) and CDM leader Giorgi Targamadze – 50% (54% in February).

The only non-politician included in the list is Patriarch of the Georgian Orthodox Church, Ilia II, who has the highest favorability rating with 92% (95% in February).

Nino Burjanadze, ex-parliamentary speaker and leader of opposition Democratic Movement-United Georgia, leads as the least favorable politician with 67% of respondents saying they ‘dislike’ her (down from 76% in February), followed by leader of Labor Party Shalva Natelashvili and Secretary of National Security Council Giga Bokeria with 57% each (Natelashvili and Bokeria had 61% and 58%, respectively, in February).
 
Merabishvili, who at the time of survey was Interior Minister, leads when respondents were asked how they rated job performance of specific politicians with 49% saying in respect of Merabishvili either ‘very well’ or ‘well’, followed by Ugulava with 40%; President Saakashvili – 39%; parliamentary speaker Bakradze and Ivanishvili with 33% each.

The ruling UNM party leads over Georgian Dream coalition when voters are asked which political group they trust most to manage various, specific issues ranging from NATO membership and relations with Russia to job creation and agriculture.

The only area in which the Georgian Dream has a slight lead over UNM is relations with Russia with 25% of voters think that Ivanishvili-led coalition is better positioned to tackle this issue against ruling party’s 22%.

33% of respondents think the ruling party can better lead Georgia’s NATO integration versus Georgian Dream’s 15%.

In this segment of survey, a substantial portion of respondents (ranging from 31% to 36%) were saying they did not know which political group would better tackle specific issues.

The political party ratings were part of NDI-commissioned broader poll also covering public attitudes towards broad range of current and policy issues; that part of the survey was released by NDI on July 10.

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