Poll Shows Georgians Reject Parties Critical of Church, Traditional Values

TBILISI – A recent poll carried out by the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and CRRC Georgia on April 13 revealed a significant shift in Georgian society’s attitude towards parties critical of the church and its deeply conservative values.

The poll, carried out on February 23-March 14, found that an overwhelming majority (74 per cent) of the 3,900 respondents will not vote in the upcoming October 8 elections for parties that are seen as critical of the highly influential and increasingly more powerful Georgian Orthodox Church.

The recent polls’ finding reaffirm the results of NDI’s earlier survey in April 2015 that found the church’s leader, Patriarch Ilia II, had the highest approval rating (87 per cent) of any public figure in the country amongst Georgia’s registered voters. The NDI’s results came in the wake of the International Republican Institute’s 2014 findings that showed the church had the highest level (94 per cent) of support among all political and social institutions in Georgia.

The NDI’s latest poll showed that a majority (68 per cent) of Georgians would not vote for a political party that criticizes the nation’s traditions, 78 per cent said would refuse to vote for a party that supports an individual’s right to speak openly about their sexual orientation and 51 per cent said they would reject a party that receives financial support from Russia instead of the Unites States.

When asked whether they support closer economic ties with Russia, 42 per cent of Georgians said they favor such a move.

Representatives of NDI and CRRC explained that the survey was carried out as an experiment to help political parties during their pre-election campaign planning.

“The reason for the poll was to show the parties what the on going trends are in their respective electorates… This was an experimental research. We look forward to seeing how voters cast their ballot in the upcoming election,” CRRC director Koba Turmanidze told to local Website Netgazeti.

Euro-Atlantic integration scored high with those polled, with 64 per cent saying Georgia’s foreign policy should be pro-Western, while only 19 per cent called for a closer alliance with Russia and its Eurasian Customs Union.

Related coverage: Poll Finds Majority of Georgians Want to Join NATO, EU

Related coverage: NDI: Georgians Still Politically Undecided Six Months Prior to Parliamentary Elections

National respondents listed Russia and its allies (49 per cent) and ISIS (8 per cent) as the country’s greatest security threats.

As political affiliations, if elections were held tomorrow, 15 per cent of the respondents in the NDI poll said they would vote for the ruling Georgian Dream coalition, 13 per cent for former President Mikheil Saakashvili’s United National Movement, 6 per cent for the Free Democrats, 4 per cent for the Labor Party, and 3 per cent for the Alliance of Patriots.

By Tamar Svanidze
Edited by Nicholas Waller

Photo: Getty Images

22 April 2016 14:25