Although majority of respondents remain in favor of Euro-Atlantic integration, a recent public opinion poll also shows that support for joining Russia-led Eurasian Union seems to be increasing.
31% of respondents said they “approve” if Georgia joins the Eurasian Union, according to the public opinion survey commissioned by the U.S. National Democratic Institute (NDI) and released on May 11.
When in a similar survey in August 2014 respondents were asked about the Eurasian Union vis-à-vis EU, 20% said that Georgia should join the Russian-led bloc, up from 11% in November 2013, and 59% said Georgia should join the EU.
On a similar, but not identical, question in the new poll, 49% of respondents said Georgia will benefit more from the EU and NATO integration and 26% chose to agree with the statement: “Georgia will benefit more from abandoning Euro-Atlantic integration in favor of better relations with Russia.”
65% of respondents, down from 72% in August 2014, said they approve government’s stated goal to join NATO. 68% approve Association Agreement with the EU, which was signed last year; the figure is statistically the same compared to the previous survey in August, 2014.
80% of respondents think that Russia has influence over Georgia and 76% of those, who think so, believe that Russia has “negative” influence on the country. 55% said that Russia’s influence will increase over Georgia in next two years.
The survey, which shows respondents’ attitudes towards broad range of issues, was fielded by the Caucasus Resource Research Centers (CRRC), on March 27-April 19. The survey was conducted through nationwide face-to-face interview with 4,360 respondents and has a margin of error plus, minus 2.3%.
In other findings the poll shows that respondents perceive jobs (67%), inflation and rising costs (43%), and poverty (37%) as the most pressing issues; territorial integrity (27%) was no longer in the top three priority issues.
According to the survey, which comes amid depreciation of national currency Lari, which has lost over 32% of its value against U.S. dollar since November, only 11% of respondents described their household situation as “better off” since October 2012, while 34% said they were “worse off” compared to 17% in August 2014.
Number of respondents who believe that country is moving in the wrong direction has increased from 16% in August 2014 to 37% in April, according to the poll. 23% of respondents think that the country is moving in the right direction, down from 40% in August 2014.
Asked how respondents felt about the future of Georgia in the next two years, 40% were optimistic, 27% said nothing will change and 15% were pessimistic.
The poll is part of a broader public opinion survey, which also includes political ratings, which will be released on April 13.