08TBILISI437, IRI NATIONAL VOTER SURVEY: NEW PUBLIC OPTIMISM

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08TBILISI437 2008-03-14 13:18 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO5242
PP RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #0437/01 0741318
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 141318Z MAR 08
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9100
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 000437 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR EUR/CARC 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/13/2018 
TAGS: PREL PGOV PHUM KDEM GG
SUBJECT: IRI NATIONAL VOTER SURVEY: NEW PUBLIC OPTIMISM 
 
REF: 07 TBILISI 2423 
 
Classified By: Charge d'Affaires Mark X. Perry for reasons 1.4 (b) and 
(d). 
 
1. (C) Summary:  The latest USAID-funded International 
Republican Institute (IRI) poll, based on 1,500 surveys 
conducted from February 19-27, shows more optimism about the 
future than was seen in September 2007 (reftel).  More people 
said the country is going in the right direction than in 
September.  Likewise, satisfaction with the development of 
democracy is up, and more people's economic situations 
improved over the previous two months.  Petty corruption 
remains very low, and confidence in the patrol police remains 
high.  Trust in the courts is still low at 27 percent, 
although this is five points higher than September.  When 
people are asked what should be the priority of the 
government, both regaining the separatist regions and 
creating jobs top the list.  The ruling National Movement 
(UNM) is seen as the most capable political party in 
addressing people's problems.  However, confidence in most 
political parties also rose.  The poll indicates as many as 
five political parties could have enough support to be 
elected to Parliament in the May election.  Russia remains 
the main threat in people's eyes, and the loss of the 
separatist regions and war are the biggest fears.  92 percent 
of Georgians would not trade Abkhazia for NATO membership. 
Electricity and roads are still seen as the government's 
biggest achievements, though roads and water follow 
unemployment as the biggest challenges in the regions.  IRI 
said the poll indicates that approximately 50-60 percent of 
the population currently supports the current government 
regarding the coming parliamentary election.  It also 
indicated that businessman Bidzina Ivanishvili is the most 
popular public figure, closely followed by President 
Saakashvili and multiple opposition leaders.  Overall, the 
results are a welcome sign following the turbulent political 
scene of the past six months.  End Summary. 
 
2. (U) The International Republican Institute (IRI), in 
conjunction with The Gallup Organization, conducted a 
USAID-funded poll across Georgia from February 19-27, 2008. 
1500 adults (age 18 ) were randomly interviewed, and the poll 
contains a margin of error of three percent or less. 
 
------------------ 
Optimism Increases 
------------------ 
 
3. (SBU) The poll shows more optimism (73 percent) about the 
future than was seen in the September 2007 poll results (59 
percent) -- close to the levels of February 2007.  41 percent 
said the country is going in the right direction (compared to 
36 percent last fall and 48 percent in February 2007). 
Likewise, 45 percent of people are satisfied with the way 
democracy is developing in the country (versus 38 percent in 
September).  24 percent of people said the economic situation 
improved over the past two months (compared to 18 percent in 
September).  48 percent reported that their households' 
financial situation stayed the same over the last two months. 
 11 percent said it improved (versus 8 percent in September). 
 
 
------------------------ 
Rule of Law Holds Steady 
------------------------ 
 
4. (SBU) People reported that petty corruption remains very 
low.  95 percent said they had not paid a bribe for any 
service in the previous six months.  Confidence in the patrol 
police remains high as well (at 77 percent).  Confidence in 
the courts saw a five percent increase versus September, 
although it is still low at 27 percent. 
 
-------------------------- 
It's Still the Economy, 
and the Separatist Regions 
-------------------------- 
 
5. (SBU) Unemployment and economic conditions are still seen 
as the most important issues facing the country, just ahead 
of maintaining Georgia's territorial integrity.  Despite 
this, when people are asked what should be the first priority 
of the government, regaining the separatist regions edges out 
creating jobs by one percentage point.  However, 93 percent 
of Georgians believe the separatist regions must be restored 
through peaceful means. 
 
------------------------------------------ 
UNM Stays Strong, Opposition Also Stronger 
------------------------------------------ 
 
TBILISI 00000437  002 OF 002 
 
 
 
6. (SBU) 72 percent of respondents said they had a medium to 
high interest in politics, the highest level in four years. 
The ruling National Movement (UNM) is seen as the most 
capable political party in addressing most of the nation's 
problems.  However, confidence in most political parties has 
risen as well.  Five different political parties polled at or 
above the five percent threshold to gain seats in Parliament. 
 Georgians still want a strong, forceful president, but one 
who is close to the people.  44 percent of respondents 
believe the May parliamentary elections will be free and fair. 
 
----------------- 
Threats and Fears 
-------------
---- 
 
7. (SBU) Russia remains Georgia's main threat in people's 
eyes.  Losing the separatist regions of Abkhazia and South 
Ossetia and war are the biggest fears.  92 percent of 
Georgians would not trade Abkhazia for NATO membership, and 
53 percent said Georgia should leave the CIS.  Georgians 
still consider the USA one of their country's best friends 
and strongest supporters, after Ukraine. 
 
---------------------- 
Successes and Failures 
---------------------- 
 
8. (SBU) Electricity and roads remain the government's 
biggest achievements.  However, roads and water follow 
unemployment as the biggest challenges facing the government 
in rural areas.  The government crackdown on November 7, 2007 
was widely seen as the government's biggest failure, followed 
by inflation and unemployment.  Tbilisi Mayor Ugulava's major 
failures are seen as violations of private property rights 
and not reflecting public opinion with his decisions. 
 
------------------------ 
Political Leader Ratings 
------------------------ 
 
9. (C) Businessman Bidzina Ivanishvili topped the list of 
public figures with favorable ratings (70 percent).  Second 
was President Saakashvili (63) and then Tina Khidasheli, 
Levan Berdzenishvili, and Speaker Nino Burjanadze (each at 62 
percent).  David Gamkrelidze, Koba Davitashvili, and Levan 
Gachechiladze each had 60 percent favorable ratings. 
Following these were David Usupashvili (59), PM Lado 
Gurgenidze (58), Zviad Dzidziguri and Kakha Kukava (57 each), 
and Irakli Okruashvili (56 percent favorable).  Tbilisi Mayor 
Gigi Ugulava (48), Salome Zourabichvili and Shalva 
Natelashvili (45 each), Goga Khaindrava (42), Konstantine 
Gamsakhurdia (40), and Zurab Tkemeladze (39 percent) came 
next.  Many government officials did not fare so well. 
Favorable ratings for these persons were as follows: David 
Bakradze (37), PG Eka Tkeshelashvili (28), David Kezerashvili 
(23), Gia Nodia and Vano Merabishvili (22), and Eka 
Sharashenidze (16). 
 
---------------------- 
Elections Implications 
---------------------- 
 
10. (C) IRI Acting Chief of Party, Dima Shashkin, said the 
poll indicated that approximately 50-60 percent of the 
population supports the current government regarding the 
coming parliamentary election.  Conversely, it also indicated 
that 30-35 percent of the population does not like 
Saakashvili. 
PERRY

Wikileaks

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