Territorial integrity no longer among the top five priority issues
Unemployment and the country’s integration into the EU and NATO are still perceived as the two top priorities regarding national and foreign policy issues (respectively) in Georgia. Meanwhile, the majority of the population believe that the country is going in the wrong direction. These and many other interesting facts have been revealed by the public opinion survey conducted by the US National Democratic Institute (NDI) at the end of last year.
Foreign policy course
The NDI survey showed that the majority of the population in Georgia (72%) approved the government’s stated goal to join the European Union. Only 21% of respondents found Georgia’s EU-aspirations unacceptable.
The survey revealed that there is less support for Georgia’s integration into NATO among the respondents (64%), while 26% of respondents were against joining the alliance. However, this has also increased compared to 2016 when 61% was in favor of joining NATO.
According to the survey findings, the idea of joining NATO is mostly supported by Tbilisi residents, and least supported in settlements predominantly populated by ethnic minorities. (36%).
As for the prospects of joining the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), 29% of the population supported membership in the EAEU. The number of supporters have increased compared to previous years (22% in June 2017).
The respondents were asked which country, in their opinion, was stronger – Russia or the USA?
41% of respondents believe that Russia is stronger than the USA, and 36% believe the opposite.
Only 13% of those surveyed positively assessed the Georgian government’s performance. Many respondents (32%) claimed the government was performing ‘badly’, while the majority of respondents (53%) rated the government’s performance as ‘average’.
It should be noted that the answer ‘average’ has a rather high rate in the responses to other questions of the survey.
When asked ‘which direction Georgia is going in’, 26% of respondents said Georgia was moving in the right direction. The majority (39%) claimed it was going in the wrong direction, while 32% of respondents said Georgia was not changing at all.
Top five priority issues
The survey showed that the majority of the population in Georgia (54%) still perceive employment opportunities as the most pressing issue.
The respondents were asked to name the top issues that they and their family members cared about most. Among the top five priorities only economic issues were named.
- employment opportunities – 54%
- price hikes/inflation – 35%
- poverty – 30%
- pensions – 25%
- affordable healthcare – 23%
It’s the first time that territorial integrity hasn’t been named among the top five priority issues. This issue is listed 6th. Only 23% of respondents named it as a priority.
According to the survey, 60% of the population in Georgia consider themselves unemployed and 40% employed. When asked about the previous month’s family income, 50% of respondents said their family income was below GEL 500.
The following issues were named as low-priorities: prison conditions, minority rights and media independence.
According to the NDI, the top priority national issues haven’t changed in Georgia over the past 9 years. The top six priority issues in the NDI’s 2009 survey were exactly the same, though their ranking was different. For example, territorial integrity was ranked 6th this year, while in the 2009 survey it was ranked second after jobs. Price hikes/inflation wasn’t perceived in 2009 as a pressing problem either. This issue ranked 6th, while in the 2018 survey it has been ranked second. Jobs which ranked as the number one problem in this list is the only priority issue that remains unchanged from year to year.
The main source of information in Georgia
The NDI survey shows that television is the main source of information for 72% of respondents. It is followed by the Internet and Facebook (21% of respondents).
According to the August 2014 survey, only 8% of respondents named the Internet as their main source of information, while in June 2017 – 19%.
Is there any Russian propaganda?
According to the NDI survey, 53% of respondents believe there isn’t any Russian propaganda in Georgia, while 30% disagree with that opinion.
Of those who claim (30%) that there is Russian propaganda in Georgia, 53% believe that it is disseminated via Georgian TV channels while 32% name political parties as the main source. 28% of respondents view the Internet and social media as a major tool for spreading Russian propaganda, while 11% name non-Georgian TV channels.
According to the same survey, 29% of respondents share the opinion that there is propaganda coming from the EU in Georgia; 45% disagreed with this viewpoint, while 26% hesitated to answer this question.
28% of respondents agreed there is the U.S. propaganda in Georgia; 44% disagreed with this opinion, while 28% hesitated to answer this question.
The survey was commissioned for the NDI by the Caucasus Resource Research Center (CRRC). The fieldwork as part of the survey was conducted from 29 November to 19 December. A total of 2 298 respondents (selected through the representative sampling technique) participated in face-to-face interviews across Georgia (excluding the occupied regions). The NDI survey was conducted with the financial assistance of the British government’s UK aid program. The average margin of error is +/- 1.9%.