IRI pro, Georgia contra09.12.2011 | 17:18
Georgians love Mikhail Saakashvili, supporting the policy of the current regime and ready to vote for the ruling National Movement party. This cheerful situation was presented to Mikhail Nikolaevich and his team by International Republican Institute (IRI) that published the results of the latest social poll. The opposition has already protested against the research data and declared it to be framed up. GeorgiaTimes correspondent talked to Georgian parliamentary Petre Mamradze about whether these formal figures are reliable.
Annual polls conducted by International Republican Institute traditionally break Georgia in two camps. On one hand, it is the government fully satisfied with the published data; on the other hand, it is the opposition, which is sure the results are distorted by Saakashvili's regime.
That is how it happened this time. According to the Americans' research, 72 percent of respondents have a positive attitude to the head of Georgia. Besides, when asked who you will vote for should the presidential elections be held tomorrow, one third of the pollees named a candidate of the National Movement party in power. 42 percent of respondents also answered in favour of the current parliamentary majority when asked a similar question about parliamentary elections.
The data provided by IRI is also indicative of the population's full support of the government's foreign policy: 78 percent of respondents look on Russia as the "principle danger" for Georgia, for it is known to be documented in the national security framework and the republic's "main enemy". 61 percent of the pollees consider the United States to be Georgia's major partner, another 33 percent assigning this role to European Union, i.e. the West, which from time to time throws Mishiko sops in the form of tranches and talks about Sakartvelo's supposed Euro-Atlantic integration. Finally, Georgians trust the army (89 percent), the police (87 percent), the president's administration (70 percent) and the media (69 percent). As we know, all of them are controlled by the government and as for the policemen's "mercy" for the people, the world has witnessed it this May during the memorable rallies.
Opponents of the regime naturally disagree with these figures. They are hard to believe considering the latest protest actions in the country. The Laborites have stated that IRI's research indicates a new American project made of Georgia. Kartuli Dasi party believes that forgery of the results of sociological polls, as well as elections, has become traditional in Georgia. "The authorities raise the figures for loyal candidates, bringing them down for the opposing ones", - head of movement Jondi Bagaturia remarked. Representative of the Christian Democrats Georgy Akhvlediani added that the leading position of the party in power in the poll is associated with the informational vacuum that the people of the republic have been put in.
Experts are also doubtful. In the opinion of political expert Irakly Sesiashvili, IRI's researches do not give a true picture of the current situation in the country. "Respondents are usually those who are loyal towards the National Movement party in power, or those who are intimidated by the government's repressive policy and are afraid to voice their opinion", - he is sure. Sesiashvili says even the polls demonstrate the falling rating of the ruling party, which is also confirmed by support given to billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili's movement. He got 18 percent of votes.
As was expected, the authorities think the poll results to be quite "natural". Speaker of Parliament David Bakradze gave the following comment on the results of the research: even an imaginary candidate of National Movement has got ahead of certain oppositional representatives, for the party in power enjoys the people's real support.
Who are we to believe? This question was put by GeorgiaTimes correspondent to deputy of the Georgian parliament Petre Mamradze. "On one hand, the foreign companies holding such polls are acting honestly. I know these people and I trust them, - our interlocutor remarked. - On the other hand, the situation in Georgia is complicated, being under the authoritarian regime's full control. The greatness of fear indicates the level of authoritarianism. Things are repeating. I remember the results in Adzharia where everyone supported the ruling Aslan Abashidze. The same is happening now. Just imagine: you are called one the phone or visited in your apartment and asked a question about supporting the ruling regime's policy. I am surprised that the government has not got one hundred percent in Saakashvili's favour. I often talk to people when using the city transport or shopping and I can assure you people think differently in fact. It is not without reason that a well-known expert Thomas De Waal said: ten out of ten people of various occupations and social groups told him they were against Saakashvili and expected certain changes when Bidzina Ivanishvili came to power".