The Georgian Dream opposition coalition, led by Bidzina Ivanishvili, said it did not trust NDI-commissioned polls, released on July 16, and the ruling United National Movement said that its support was still high although the party had not yet formally launched campaigning.
The poll shows that ruling party maintained big lead in June, but its support was down by 11 percentage points to 36% since February; the poll also showed the Georgian Dream making gains with its support increasing from 10% in February to 18% in June with Christian Democratic Movement far behind with 3% - no change since February.
“We do not trust these polls,” Maia Panjikidze, a spokesperson for the Georgian Dream coalition, said on Monday. “We have stated for number of times previously that these polls do not cause confidence, so I am not going to comment on specific figures [in NDI poll], because we do not know methodology of these surveys… and we do don’t know how field work was carried out… So our position on the issue has not changed.”
She also said that for the Georgian Dream “the main indicator” was large number of turnout at their campaign rallies and not various polling data.
In March the Georgian Dream sent a letter to the U.S. ambassador to Georgia questioning credibility of polls commissioned by NDI and the U.S. International Republican Institute (IRI) and called for suspending carrying out such surveys prior to the parliamentary elections. The U.S. embassy in Tbilisi responded: “We are confident that NDI’s polls… are conducted professionally and based on legitimate methodology.”
A senior ruling party lawmaker, Giorgi Gabashvili, said on Monday that the NDI polls were credible and were mainly in line with those commissioned by the ruling party itself. He also said that the ruling party was grateful to voters “because we have a very high support, even though we have not yet launched the election campaign.”
Although the ruling party has not yet formally announced about the launch of the campaign, the party’s leading figures and senior officials are holding campaign-style meetings with voters for months already. According to election observer organization, International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED), the ruling party representatives held at least 57 such meetings in June; Georgian Dream coalition held 105 campaign meetings; New Rights – 34 and Christian-Democratic Movement – 11.
MP Levan Vepkhvadze of the Christian-Democratic Movement (CDM) said that there was no change in his party’s rating since February mainly because at the time of polling in June no campaign was launched by the CDM; the party formally kicked off the campaign last week. MP Vepkhvadze also said that the polls showed that CDM had a potential to increase its support and garner at least 10% in the October parliamentary elections.
The Labor Party denounced NDI-commissioned polls as “yet another lie” from “American colonizers”.
It is the first time when NDI made public segment of its commissioned public opinion survey, which covers political party ratings.
Until now, it has always been the NDI’s policy not to make political ratings public, instead presenting that segment of polls privately to the political parties. Those rating, however, were then usually leaked to the press by some political parties; leaked polls were often fragmented and inconclusive, fraught with inaccuracies.
“We wanted to minimize the possibilities of misrepresentations or misinterpretations [of polling data],” Luis Navarro, NDI Senior Resident Country Director in Georgia, said on July 16, adding that for that reason NDI was releasing political polling data publicly “in order to provide maximum transparency and context around the data.”
He, however, also said that whether the NDI would do the same in the future “remains to be seen.”