Those who believe that Mikheil Saakashvili should not become PM after his presidential term expires have only a slight edge over those who have opposite view with substantial number of respondents undecided, according to a new public opinion survey released on July 10.
Asked if they would approve President Saakashvili becoming Prime Minister after his second and final term in office expires in late 2013, 36% responded negatively and 33% - positively with 27% said they did not know and 3% refused to answer, according to the poll fielded by the Caucasus Resource Research Centers (CRRC) for U.S. National Democratic Institute (NDI).
The survey, which was conducted from June 4 to June 22 through nationwide face-to-face interview with 6,299 respondents, has a margin of error plus, minus 2%.
The poll represents attitudes of the Georgian public towards broad range of current and policy issues, including about foreign relations. Previous similar survey was held in late February.
These polls also include ratings of political parties, but that part of the survey is never released by NDI to the public, instead it is presented to political parties privately; however, usually, segments of those ratings are then leaked to the press.
Like previous similar surveys, the new one again shows that unemployment remains the top concern for most of the respondents, followed by territorial integrity and affordable healthcare.
Asked which reforms would be the most important for Georgia, most of the respondents identified healthcare reform, followed by agriculture, pension, education, election and judicial reform.
53% of respondents either say Georgia is “definitely going in the right direction” or “is going mainly in the right direction”, which is a decline from NDI’s similar survey in late February, 2012 when the figure stood at 62%, but it is still higher than in March, 2011 when the figure stood at just 35%.
In marked change over the previous poll, 38% of respondents say that Georgia is a democracy now, a decline from 49% in late February. According to the recent poll 43% say Georgia is not a democracy now, compared to 34% in February.
The new poll shows a significant increase in number of likely voters in the parliamentary elections since September, 2011.
75% of respondents said they would likely vote if election were held tomorrow, an increase from 64% in February, 2012 and from 51% five months earlier.
The new poll shows that bribing of voters has become a top concern of respondents when asked what they think are the biggest barriers to free and fair elections, followed by problems related to voters’ list, which was the top concern in the February survey.
55% of respondents think that upcoming Parliamentary elections will be conducted either “totally well” or “somewhat well”, opposed to 21% who think that elections will be either somewhat or totally falsified.
53% of respondents said they do not support a statement by Bidzina Ivanishvili, leader of Georgian Dream opposition coalition that he would call for street protests if elections are falsified, with 27% responding positively.
Ivanishvili and his Citizenship
71% of respondents disapprove stripping Bidzina Ivanishvili of his Georgian citizenship, up from 65% in February and 63% disapprove a decision by the Civil Registry Agency to deny Ivanishvili’s application for citizenship through naturalization.
45% of respondents, opposed to 17%, think that there should be an exception for Ivanishvili to allow him to run for the Parliament without having a Georgian citizenship.
A constitution was amended in May, allowing Ivanishvili to vote and be elected in Georgia’s elections without having a Georgian citizenship.
But only 32% of respondents said that they were aware of these constitutional changes. 31% say that they approve such constitutional amendment, opposed to 25% who disapprove with 40% said they do not know. Ivanishvili said he would not make use of this constitutional amendment and would only run in election after restoration of his citizenship.
Support towards government’s stated goal to join NATO declined from 70% in February to 62% in June and support towards EU membership stands at 70%.
Asked when they think Georgia would join NATO, 54% said they do not know, 25% responded that it would happen in or after 2014, 10% said never and 9% believe it will happen next year.
44% of respondents believe that Russia is "a real and existing threat to Georgia" and 20% of respondents say that although Russia is a threat, they also believe this threat is “exaggerated.” 87% of respondents disapprove Georgia’s current state of relationship with Russia.
Majority of respondents (55%) were also not aware about another constitutional amendment, which lowered minimum age for MP from 25 to 21. 67% of respondents disapproves the decision.
Majority of respondents remain supportive to the authorities’ plans to build new city, Lazika, on Georgia's Black Sea coast; support, however, has slightly declined from 59% of those who were aware about such plans in February to 54% in June; 32% are against, compared to 27% in February.
In May Christian-Democratic Movement (CDM), which is a leading party in a small parliamentary minority group, said it was planning to propose constitutional amendments in order to deter, as it put it, propaganda of “homosexuality and indecency.” One of the proposals is to include a clause in the constitution banning same-sex marriage.
59% of respondents said that they were not aware of this proposal, but 89% of respondents said that they would approve such a constitutional amendment.