NDI’s Poll Reveals Faults in Local Governments

After two wild scale polls regarding economic, social and political issues, the National Democratic Institute (NDI) in partnership with CRRC Georgia and Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) presented research related to Georgian’s communication with Local Governments. The poll shows that living conditions have not improving at local level, but people are quite satisfied with the services of public institutions and named roads, water and gas supplies and pollution of environment as the most important infrastructural issues.

This is the first survey released by NDI Georgia that focused largely on local government issues. The survey polled 4,448 people across Georgia and included a representative sample for the self-governing cities of Tbilisi, Kutaisi, Batumi, Zugdidi, Gori, Telavi, Akhaltsikhe, Ozurgeti, Mtskheta and of the Gurjaani municipality.

According to Laura Thornton, NDI’s senior director in Georgia, they communicated with representatives of Local Governments, Local Councils (Sakrebulos) and City Halls to capture the most relevant information to foster the development of responsive policies and governance. However, the poll’s results show that communication itself between Local Government and citizens is very poor. Only 6% of Georgians report having ever been contacted by Sakrebulo officials, 3% by mayors’ offices, and 1% by governors’ offices. Knowledge of the work of these offices was also low, with approximately 60% of citizens reporting that they knew “nothing at all” and 83% unable to identify their Sakrebulo majoritarian member. Citizen participation in public events, petitions and rallies is also low.

As previous polls have shown, Georgians still believe their living conditions have stayed the same (47%) or worsened (43%) over the last year. More than a half of the population consider themselves as unemployed and the statistics have not really changed since 2010. Despite this fact, about 80% of Georgians think that their city or village is a safe place to live and raise children. They named land farming (51%), tourism (43%) and livestock (41%) as the top three economic development opportunities in the country.

People are satisfied with the performances of the emergency medical services (66%) and Public Service Halls (56%), but named roads, water and gas supplies and pollution of the environment as the most important infrastructural issues in Georgia. Tbilisi citizens highlighted the importance of pollution of environment, parks and green spaces and clean streets.

NDI’s poll also showed a different picture regarding public transport in Tbilisi and other regions. Georgians in the regions see the only disadvantage of public transport being a lack of adaptability for the disabled, while people who live in the capital add the cost policy, sanitary conditions, space available and safety concerns to their list of dislikes. 68% of Georgians think that it is necessary to introduce technical inspections for cars.

For the first time, Tbilisi citizens were asked their opinion about the Panorama Tbilisi Project, where 41% disapproved and 32% approved. Most citizens are against large residential and business complexes in Vere gorge (72%). In addition, 71% of Georgian think it would be better to bring the Parliament of Georgia back to Tbilisi.

“As previous polls have shown, Georgians are concerned about employment, living conditions, and the economic growth of their communities and would like to see improvements in basic infrastructure and a cleaner environment, especially in Tbilisi,” said Laura Thornton, NDI’s senior director in Georgia. “Across the country, there is minimal communication between citizens and their elected representatives but when such interaction takes place, citizens report positively. I think it is an important opportunity and incentive for local government officials to get out and talk to people more about what they are doing and to solicit public input,” she added.

The results reflect data collected from August 8 to September 10 through face-to-face interviews with a nationwide representative sample of citizens of Georgia. According to Koba Turmanidze, representative of CRRC Georgia, the average margin of error is +/- 3.01 percent.

Soon NDI will be ready to present the results of a poll covering foreign policy and political party support related issues.

Eka Karsaulidze

15 October 2015 21:46