NDI Polls: Majority of Georgians Support Euro-Atlantic Aspirations

Recent poll results released by the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and CRRC Georgia revealed that the majority of the respondents approve the Government’s goal for Georgia to become a member of the European Union (EU) and NATO. In particular, 77 percent of respondents support Georgia's goal to become a member of the EU, while for 16 percent it is unacceptable.

As for NATO membership, the number of supporters was 66 percent while the idea is unacceptable for 23 percent.

Moreover, 23 percent of respondents agree that Georgia should join the Eurasian Union, which was established by the Russian Federation, Belarus and Kazakhstan, while 62 percent of respondents believe Georgia should join the EU, which was founded by Western European countries.

For visa-liberalization, 49 percent of NDI respondents agree that they will benefit from visa-free travel with the EU, while 42 percent disagree with the opinion.

When asked whether they have heard about visa liberalization, 90 percent of respondents said they had heard and 9 said they had not. 58 percent of the respondents in ethnic minorities had heard about the visa-free travel with the EU and 37 percent has no such information.

The number of citizens who think Georgia is developing in the right and wrong directions are equal at 31 percent for each group, while 35 percent of respondents think nothing has changed.

Furthermore, 52 percent of respondents rate the government’s performance as average. Only one percent estimated it as very good, 9 - good, 23 - bad, 12 - very bad, 52 percent - average.

As for the discussions on the constitutional amendments, 89 percent of respondents say they had not participated in the discussions. 32 percent of respondents said they knew about the creation of the State Constitutional Commission and adoption of the draft constitution while 60 percent said they did not know.

“It seems evident that more time, deliberation and research are needed on changes to the country’s most significant document, when so few are aware or have been consulted,” said Laura Thornton, NDI senior director.

The survey shows that half of Georgians (52 percent) were aware of the new legislation revoking the status of seven self-governing cities and merging them with the municipalities, while 44 percent was unaware. The majority of citizens (59 percent) disapprove of the merging and single-body governing of these cities, and only 16 percent approve. Further, half believe it will have a negative impact on the country (45 percent) while only 11 percent see a positive impact.

“The poll shows that the criticism from civil society, opposition political parties, and the President’s office of the changes in local government legislation is backed by the public, with extremely few citizens evaluating this legislation positively,” Thornton said.

The survey results reflect data collected from June 18 to July 9, through face-to-face interviews with a nationwide representative sample of Georgia’s adult population, excluding occupied territories that included 2,261 completed interviews. NDI’s survey work is funded with UK aid from the British people and carried out by CRRC Georgia.

Thea Morrison

31 July 2017 12:41