- There is a change in attitude towards Russian “threat”.
U.S. National Democratic Institute (NDI) released on December 12 part of its commissioned public opinion survey, conducted in second half of November, which shows respondents’ attitudes towards broad range of policy issues.
The poll also includes ratings of political parties and this segment of the survey will be released by NDI on December 17.
The survey was fielded by the Caucasus Resource Research Centers (CRRC) for U.S. National Democratic Institute (NDI) on November 14-25 and was funded by Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida). The survey was conducted through nationwide face-to-face interview with 1,947 respondents; it has a margin of error plus, minus 3%.
Attitudes toward democracy have remained statistically the same since NDI’s August poll. Asked whether Georgia is a democracy now, 41% of respondents said yes, compared to 40% who said no.
58% of respondents view Georgia as moving in the right direction (54% in August), while 11% said the country is going in the wrong direction (21% in August).
Jobs (mentioned by 56%), affordable health care (mentioned by 35%) and territorial integrity (mentioned by 29%, down from 34% in August) remain the top issues.
In this recent survey there were fewer questions about current events than in previous similar polls.
Respondents were asked about prison abuse scandal, which broke out in September after shocking videos of inmates’ inhuman treatment emerged.
When asked what actions should the newly established government take following the prison scandal, answers were prioritized by respondents as follows: full investigation/investigate members of the former government (mentioned by 47%); prison reform (mentioned by 41%); hold members of the former government criminally accountable (35%); increase monitoring of prison conditions/increased NGO access (24%) and amnesty (12%).
Respondents were also asked about the incident in the village of Nigvziani in western Georgian region of Guria last month, when a small local Muslim community, ethnic Georgians who settled in the village after moving from Adjara region in early 1990s, was prevented by the local Orthodox Christian community to perform religious services in a house, which was converted into the place of worship for the Muslim community.
Asked whether the Muslim community in the Nigvziani village should be allowed to hold their services in a privately owned building, 51% of respondents answered positively and 29% negatively with 19% saying they do not know.
Among the current events one question was about PM Bidzina Ivanishvili’s decision to introduce a post of his special representative for relations with Russia. 68% of respondents approve this move versus 4% who disapprove and 27% said they did not know, according to the survey.
79% of respondents are dissatisfied with Georgia’s current state of relationship with Russia and 12% are satisfied. In NDI’s August survey 89% disapproved Georgia’s relations with Russia and 5% approved.
In a marked change over the previous survey, in the recent poll in November only 26% of respondents believe that Russia is “a real and existing threat to Georgia”, down from 48% in August and number of those who say that Russia “is no threat to Georgia at all” more than doubled from 9% in August to 22% in November.
40% of respondents say that although Russia is a threat, they also believe this threat is “exaggerated”; 30% of respondents gave similar answer in August.
At the same time support to Georgia’s NATO and EU integration became even stronger, increasing to 71% and 77%, respectively, in November, up from 62% and 68%, respectively, in August.
68% of respondents said they approve reestablishment of a railway link between Georgia and Russia via breakaway Abkhazia; 6% disapprove and 24% do not know.
The survey also shows that 79% of respondents think the October 1 parliamentary elections were run well compared to 12% who think there was some level of falsification.