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First Georgian National Poll Since Protests Reveals Loss of Trust in the Government, Decade’s Worth of Economic and Employment Concerns

November 18, 2019

Tbilisi, Georgia—The first International Republican Institute (IRI) national poll conducted in Georgia since the anti-Russia protests in June 2019 indicates a continued deficit of trust in the government. No party has a clear lead in the upcoming election, but there is potential to make headway with voters by addressing economic issues, which continue to be the top national concern for citizens.

“The economy and unemployment have been high-ranking concerns for Georgian residents for nearly a decade, but these issues are not present in the country’s political party discourse. Party leadership have the opportunity to develop detailed programs and platforms that respond to issues that voters find most pressing,” said Steve Nix, IRI’s regional director for Eurasia.  

Eighty percent of respondents ranked economic concerns such as unemployment, the cost of living and poverty as their top national concerns. These issues are the most prevalent concerns at the personal level as well, with 50 percent of respondents claiming unemployment, low salaries, poverty and the general economy are their largest concerns at home. Moreover, the majority of respondents (59 percent) identify economic issues as having the greatest potential to stymie democratic development in Georgia.

Earlier in the year, the government promised to change the parliamentary system from mixed proportional and majoritarian to fully proportional. Seventy-eight percent of Georgians who are aware of the proposed change to a fully proportional system for parliamentary elections are in favor of the proposed switch. Additionally, 58 percent of all Georgians surveyed believe that a change to a fully proportional parliamentary list would positively affect Georgia’s democratic development.

With elections less than a year away, a clear front-runner has yet to emerge. Because 61 percent of voters are focused on economic policies in the run-up to the election and a third are undecided on their first choice, the political parties that develop coherent and appealing economic platforms will be best positioned to form a parliamentary majority.

Public support for NATO and EU membership within Georgia has increased in the last six months from 68 percent to 71 percent, and 75 percent to 80 percent, respectively. This support appears to be motivated by the perceived security and economic benefits associated with NATO and the EU.   

Methodology

Fieldwork for this poll was conducted by the Institute of Polling and Marketing and data were collected between September 11 and October 14, 2019. The survey was coordinated by Dr. Rasa Alisauskiene of the public and market research company Baltic Surveys/The Gallup Organization on behalf of IRI’s Center for Insights in Survey Research through face-to-face interviews at respondents’ homes.

The sample consisted of 1,500 permanent residents of Georgia aged 18 or older and eligible to vote. The sample is representative of the general population by age, gender, region and settlement size. The margin of error for this survey does not exceed plus-or-minus 2.5 percent, and the response rate was 69 percent.

This survey is made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The opinions expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.