TBILISI – Poll results released today by the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and CRRC Georgia indicate that 61 percent of Georgians support the country’s goal to join the European Union (EU). At the same time, some citizens are considering alternatives such as the Eurasian Union, which earned 31 percent support. Those Georgians approving Eurasian Union membership primarily cite perceived economic benefits (71 percent), not political or governance improvements, while 68 percent of European Union supporters say the same about joining the EU. In comparison, only 7 percent of Eurasian Union supporters think that Eurasian Union membership would strengthen democratic development. 21 percent of EU supporters believe that EU membership would strengthen democratic development.
“When you probe more deeply into the reasons for Georgian opinion vis-à-vis the EU and Eurasian Union, you can see that the drivers are largely the same – Georgians are motivated by economic, not political, considerations and express increased willingness to explore any possibilities for improving economic development,” - said Laura Thornton, NDI’s senior country director in Georgia. - “Thus to address the increasing support for alternatives to the EU, one must look carefully at the factors that drive it and not mistake this support as simply political approval of a pro-Russian direction.”
While the majority of Georgians supports joining the EU, when reflecting on benefits and offered a choice between European and Euro-Atlantic (EU and NATO) integration and abandoning this direction in favor of better relations with Russia, 45 percent of citizens said Georgia would benefit more from European and Euro- Atlantic integration, while 30 percent would abandon these aspirations for better ties with Russia. Again, citizens give an economic, not political, rationale for closer relations with Russia, and only 6 percent of Georgians believe that Russia should have political influence on Georgia.
The poll also found that 14 percent of all citizens identified Georgian Dream as the party closest to them, and 13 percent identified United National Movement (UNM). Irakli Alasania-Free Democrats and the Alliance of Patriots both have 4 percent support, although the Irakli Alasania-Free Democrats is the most popular second choice, with 6 percent.
Responding to the question - if parliamentary elections were held tomorrow, would you say you are decided or undecided - 59 percent of citizens said they are undecided, including 41 percent of likely voters. Of likely voters, 15 percent would vote for the United National Movement (UNM) and 14 percent would vote for Georgian Dream Coalition.
The poll also revealed that most Georgians still do not have a preferred political party. Responding to the question - if parliamentary elections were held tomorrow, who would you vote for - 35% said don’t know, 14% - no party and 13% refused to answer.
"As shown in our last poll, the electoral playing field is still wide open and no party is ahead in Georgia," said Thornton. “Georgians are completely undecided about their political preferences, presenting an opportunity for all parties to spend the next year leading up to the parliamentary elections earning citizens’ backing through responsive platforms and policies.”
NDI surveys public opinion to help Georgian stakeholders diagnose and address issues of public concern by providing accurate, unbiased and statistically-sound data. The poll was developed in consultation with party, government and civil society leaders, and aims to capture the most relevant information to foster the development of responsive policies and governance. A wide range of leaders from across the political spectrum have reported that the polls are important to their work and encourage continued polling. 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 that included 4,448 completed interviews. The average margin of error is +/- 3.01 percent.
NDI’s survey work is funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) and carried out by the CRRC Georgia.
NDI is an independent, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization working to support and strengthen democratic institutions worldwide through citizen participation, openness and accountability in government. More information is available at www.ndi.org.
CRRC-Georgia is a non-governmental, non-profit research organization with a mission to promote evidence based debates on policy issues by providing reliable, up-to-date and accessible data and analysis. More information is available at http://www.crrc.ge