Tbilisi mayor, Davit Narmania, is among those three mayors, who have net-negative performance ratings, according to NDI-commissioned poll, which survived respondents in nine out of twelve self-governing cities, where mayors were elected in last year’s local elections.
The poll, which was fielded by the Caucasus Resource Research Centers (CRRC) for the U.S. National Democratic Institute (NDI) in a period between August 8 and September 10, focuses largely on local government and broad range of other local issues; it has a margin of error plus, minus 3%.
Of the three mayors who scored negatively, Narmania has the largest net-negative rating of 24 percentage points. While only 12% of respondents approve his performance, 36% rate his performance as poor; 44% are “neutral” and 7% say they “do not know.”
Narmania won slightly over 46% of votes in the Tbilisi mayoral race in June, 2014 elections, which including total of 14 candidates. Falling short of outright victory in the first round, Narmania defeated the UNM opposition party’s candidate in the runoff with 72.47% of votes.
The mayor of Gori, the main city of Shida Kartli region, Zurab Jirkvelishvili, has the second largest net-negative rating of 12 percentage points with 7% of respondents approving his performance, 19% disapproving and 31% are neutral.
Performance by Giorgi Ermakov, mayor of Batumi, resort and port city on Black Sea coast in Adjara region, is rated by 15% of respondents positively and 19% are of opposite view; 39% are neutral.
The mayor of Georgia’s second largest city, Kutaisi, Shota Murgulia, has 18% positive performance rating with the same number of respondents viewing his performance negatively; 46% are “neutral”.
The mayors of Akhaltsikhe, Telavi, Ozurgeti, Mtskheta, and Zugdidi have net-positive ratings, but like the four other cities surveyed, the number of those respondents in these five cities who were neutral exceeds those who have either a positive or negative view about performance of their mayors.
The mayor of Akhaltsikhe, Giorgi Kopadze, has the highest net-positive performance rating of 21 percentage points, followed by Mayor of Telavi Platon Kalmakhelidze (14 percentage points); Mayor of Zugdidi Irakli Gogokhia (13); Ozurgeti Mayor Beglar Sioridze (8), and Mayor of Mtskheta Avtandil Nemsitsveridze (3).
Only 13% of respondents agree with a statement that the local government is making changes that matter to them and 46% - disagree; 34% are neutral.
47% of respondents said that living conditions in their cities or villages stayed the same since June 2014, when the local elections were held; 43% responded that conditions got worse and only 9% said that conditions improved.
The survey also shows that interaction between citizens and elected local government officials – mayors; heads of municipalities (Gamgebeli), and members of local councils (Sakrebulo), is infrequent.
Only 6% of respondents reported having ever been contacted by local council members and 3% by mayors’ offices. According to the survey knowledge of the work of the local self-governing bodies was also low.
But the poll also shows that despite limited interaction, those who did engage with local government officials reported them as competent (69%) and respectful (88%).
According to the survey, respondents rate highly the performance of emergency medical services and public service halls, one-stop shops where citizen can get multiple services from various state agencies under the single roof.
Majority of respondents also believe that their village or town is safe (83%) and a good place to raise children (72%).
Respondents in Tbilisi were asked about planned Panorama Tbilisi, a controversial large-scale project for construction of multi-functional complex on the hillside in the old part of the capital city, which is backed by billionaire ex-PM Bidzina Ivanishvili. The plan is strongly opposed by preservationist groups, who argue that this overscaled project will destroy Tbilisi’s historic setting.
41% of those respondents in Tbilisi, who had heard about Panorama Tbilisi project, disapproved it, 32% approved, and 26% had no opinion.
Respondents nationwide were also asked about the location of Parliament.
Currently, parliament has two buildings – one is a newly built chamber in Kutaisi and another one is in Tbilisi, where committee hearings are held. Although the GD ruling coalition wants to completely relocate parliament back to Tbilisi, it requires a constitutional change which cannot be introduced without the support of UNM opposition lawmakers, who are in favor of keeping the building in Kutaisi.
71% of respondents nationwide said that the Parliament should be located in Tbilisi; 20% were in favor of keeping it in Kutaisi.
Among the cities where the poll was fielded, only in Kutaisi were the majority of respondents (54%) in favor of keeping the parliament building in Kutaisi.