07TBILISI2423, IRI NATIONAL VOTER SURVEY: ECONOMY SLOWS

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07TBILISI2423 2007-09-27 11:39 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL//NOFORN Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO2825
PP RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #2423/01 2701139
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 271139Z SEP 07 ZDK ZUI RUEHKB #8340 2740410
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7741
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 002423 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR EUR/CARC 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/27/2017 
TAGS: PGOV PREL GG
SUBJECT: IRI NATIONAL VOTER SURVEY: ECONOMY SLOWS 
SAAKASHVILI 
 
REF: A. TBILISI 541 
 
     B. TBILISI 2415 
 
TBILISI 00002423  001.2 OF 002 
 
 
Classified By: Ambassador John F. Tefft for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 
 
1. (SBU) Summary: President Saakashvili's, and his 
government's, popularity have slipped since February (ref A). 
 According to a USAID-funded poll conducted in early 
September by the International Republican Institute (IRI) and 
the Gallup Organization, the highest percentage of 
respondents in 3 years believe the country is going in the 
wrong direction.  The ruling National Movement (UNM) remains 
the most trusted of parties, but by a narrower margin.  The 
UNM's slide is primarily due to economic concerns, as 
unemployment has surpassed territorial integrity as 
Georgians' most pressing issue.  Former Defense Minister 
Irakli Okruashvili was considered a strong Presidential 
candidate in opposition to Saakashvili.  60 percent of 
respondents said it would likely be good for Georgia if 
Okruashvili runs for President.  In a proposed first round 
election, Saakashvili received less than half of the vote. 
It is a statistical dead heat in a runoff match-up between 
the two.  Infrastructure development -- constant electricity, 
paved roads, and city appearances -- remain the top GOG 
achievements.  Unemployment, the conflict zones and bad 
relations with Russia are considered the GOG's biggest 
failures.  Confidence in the institutions of central 
government also decreased.  End summary. 
 
----------------------- 
Saakashvili and UNM Dip 
----------------------- 
 
2. (SBU) In the September 2007 poll, 58 percent of 
respondents -- the highest level in 3 years -- believe the 
country is going in the wrong direction.  The ruling National 
Movement (UNM) remains the most trusted of parties, although 
this trust has dropped from 38 to 27 percent of respondents. 
If the Parliamentary elections were held now, 45 percent of 
voters said they would vote for the UNM, down from 56 percent 
in February.  If a presidential contest were held tomorrow, 
33 percent of respondents said they would support 
Saakashvili, down from 47 percent.  21 percent said they 
would support Okruashvili, while the rest favored other 
candidates or were undecided.  Asked which candidate they 
would never vote for, 25 percent named Saakashvili, up from 
12 percent earlier this year. 
 
---------------- 
It's the Economy 
---------------- 
 
3. (U) The UNM's slide is primarily due to economic concerns, 
as unemployment has surpassed territorial integrity as 
Georgians' most pressing fear.  Creating jobs was almost dead 
even with restoring Georgia's territorial integrity as to 
what should be the GOG's first priority.  The economy once 
again was a clear winner in the category of which field the 
GOG should reform first.  Unemployment was considered the 
biggest failure of the current government, with 31 percent of 
respondents claiming they are unemployed. 
 
-------------------------------------- 
Okruashvili Rises above the Opposition 
-------------------------------------- 
 
4. (U) Former Defense Minister Irakli Okruashvili made a 
strong showing as a Presidential candidate against 
Saakashvili in the poll.  60 percent of respondents said it 
would probably or definitely be good for Georgia if 
Okruashvili runs for President.  If a first round contest 
were held tomorrow, 33 percent said that they would vote for 
Saakashvili and 21 percent opted for Okruashvili.  However, 
in a runoff match-up between the two, Saakashvili received 39 
percent to Okruashvili's 38. 
 
5. (U) 83 percent of Georgians believe it is important for 
the country to have an opposition, while only 5 percent do 
not.  The level of support for the individual opposition 
parties was largely consistent with February results.  No 
other potential opposition candidate for President received 
more than 8 percent of the vote in the survey. 
 
---------------------- 
Successes and Failures 
---------------------- 
 
6. (U) Infrastructure development -- constant electricity, 
paved roads, and city appearances -- remain the top GOG 
 
TBILISI 00002423  002 OF 002 
 
 
achievements, throughout Tbilisi and the country. 
Unemployment, the conflict zones and bad relations with 
Russia are considered the GOG's biggest failures.  70 percent 
of the respondents saw Russia as a threat to Georgia.  In 
Tbilisi, violation of private property is also seen as a 
significant failure by the mayor.  Confidence in the Church, 
Army, media, police, and Central Bank remained strong, 
consistent with the year's previous results.  However, 
confidence in the President's office, Cabinet of Ministers, 
and Parliament all saw double-digit decreases.  Satisfaction 
with regional governors' effectiveness decreased, while 
confidence in local government moved up two points to 37 
percent. 
 
7. (C) Comment: Support for both Saakashvili a
nd his party 
has noticeably decreased in this latest IRI poll.  Still the 
President and UNM remain the strongest game in town, despite 
the noticeable drag from economic issues and unemployment. 
The UNM continues to enjoy widespread support due to the 
undeniable visible progress they have made on infrastructure 
and daily security.  Now that the low-hanging fruit is 
largely picked, it appears that the ruling party now faces 
the more difficult tasks of economic development, job 
creation, and instilling longer-term confidence in 
government.  The poll, taken just before Okruashvili's 
dramatic attacks on Saakashvili put him openly in opposition 
(ref B), suggests that Okruashvili would be a strong 
challenger to Saakashvili, adding pressure to Saakashvili and 
the UNM.  Still, Okruashvili is not yet an announced 
candidate, and it is not clear whether the election will be 
before or after his 35th birthday on November 6, 2007.  If it 
is before, he be ineligible to run.  End comment. 
TEFFT

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