NDI Poll: Georgians Evaluate Elections Favorably; Concerns Remain About Media Accuracy

While they deemed the conduct of local elections last October to be most favourable thus far, citizens are becoming increasingly unhappy with the direction that Georgia is heading in, highlighting a number of economic and environmental issues as their top priorities, poll results released today by the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and CRRC Georgia show. 39% of Georgians believe that their country is headed in the wrong direction, compared to 26% who think that it is on the right path, while 32% believe that Georgia is not changing at all. Employment remains the primary national issue, with roads and environmental pollution continuing to be a high priority on a local level. Environmental concerns are the number one local issue in Tbilisi. 

"At a time when the government is eliminating the environmental ministry as a stand-alone institution, Georgian citizens are demanding that resources and policies for environmental improvement not be neglected," Laura Thornton, NDI Senior Country Director, said. 

66% of Georgians reported that they voted in last October's local government elections, though youth turnout was the lowest amongst the different segments of the population at a mere 51%. Almost all of the voters (93%) believe that elections were "safe" and "well-ordered", while 92% considered them to be "without intimidation". The performance of the election commission was deemed as "average" by 40% of the voters, and "well" by 42%. However, as many as 30% were not confident about the vote counting process. Furthermore, a third of Georgians also believe that the media coverage of the contestants was imbalanced, state money was misused, and that public officials participated in the election campaigns on behalf of a particular party. These percentages were greater in Tbilisi. 

"While the public approves of the overall election process in many regards, it is alarming to note the number of citizens who lack faith in the counting of ballots, consistent with the observations of election monitors. The election commission and policymakers should consider reforming counting procedures to ensure confidence in the country's election and results," Thornton said. 

The public's lack of confidence extends to other areas important to democracy. Georgian television is perceived as a spreader of misinformation by 60% of respondents, while a further 51 and 43% believe that it is an issue afflicting online and print media too. 

"This is a troubling revelation and part of a global trend of distrust in journalism and news sources," Thorton said. "Efforts are urgently needed to strengthen journalistic integrity and standards, monitor and implement checks on disinformation, and build reliable news sources for the Georgian public."

Meanwhile, in the realm of foreign policy, public opinion remains consistent with previous polls. 72% of Georgians approve of joining the EU, and 64% of becoming members of NATO. Russia's military strength is believed to be greater than that of the United States by 41%, while 36% believe the inverse to be true. This finding could be a reflection of relevance or potential impact on Georgia, rather than actual capabilities. 

NDI surveys public opinion to help Georgian stakeholders diagnose and address issues of public concern by providing accurate, unbiased and statistically-sound data. The aim of this poll is to capture the most relevant information to foster the development of responsive policies and governance. A wide range of leaders from across the political spectrum have reported that the polls are important to their work and encourage continued polling. 

Survey results are a reflection of the data collected between November 29-December 19, through 2,298 face-to-face interviews with a nationwide representative sample (excluding occupied territories). The average margin of error is +/- 1.9%. 

NDI's survey work is funded with UK aid from the British people. 

This poll was carried out by CRRC Georgia.

By Máté Földi                                                   


16 January 2018 13:09