On December 30, 2013 Davit Usupashivili, Chairman of the Parliament of Georgia, declared that Georgia’s top priority for the year was the signing of an Association Agreement with the EU. If signed, the association agreement will enable closer ties between Georgia and the EU. This will likely be supported by the vast majority of Georgians as 83% of ethnic Georgians say they would vote to join the EU if a referendum were held tomorrow, according to a 2014 study commissioned by the Eurasia Partnership Foundation. Still, a minority of Georgians are against closer ties with the EU. This opinion appears to be related to satisfaction with life, the perceived political situation, and one’s perceived economic standing in society. This blog explores data on those who are less supportive or against EU integration in Georgia, as well as some possible reasons for the opposition.
Given the government’s focus on EU integration, it is not surprising that Georgians with a higher level of trust in the EU are more likely to think that the country is headed in the right direction. This difference is pronounced with 30% of Georgians who fully distrust the EU and think the country is going in the right direction, as opposed to 60% of those who fully trust the EU and think the country is going in the right direction.
Note: "Politics is definitely going in the wrong direction" and "politics is mainly going in the wrong direction" were combined into "politics is going in the wrong direction." “Politics is definitely going in the right direction” and “politics is mainly going in the wrong direction” were also combined in this graph.
In addition to political satisfaction, as measured by the previous graphic, personal satisfaction seems to be related to one’s trust in the EU. Georgians who trust the EU appear to be more satisfied with life overall. For Georgians who fully trust the EU, only 21% report being dissatisfied, whereas a full 46% of Georgians who do not trust the EU report being dissatisfied with life. This trend also holds for those who support Georgia joining the EU.
Note: Overall life satisfaction on the CB 2013 questionnaire had a ten point scale. This graph converted those numbers into a three point scale.
In understanding satisfaction with life and political satisfaction, one factor that appears important is the perceived economic position of Georgians and their household. The following graph places perceived economic rung, how Georgians feel their household is doing compared to the rest of society, and trust in the EU against one another. As the graph shows, families that feel more confident in their economic standing are more likely to trust the EU. This trend holds largely true for families that report standing on an economic rung of 3, 4, or 5. When a family perceives itself to be at a lower economic rung in society (1, 2), then they are more likely to distrust the EU than those who perceive that they are at a higher rung in society. This is evidenced by the fact that almost two thirds (64%) of those who responded with full distrust of the EU also ranked themselves as either on the first or second rung of the economic ladder. About half (52%) of those who slightly distrusted the EU also reported being either at the first or second rung of the economic ladder. Once again, this trend also is present in support for Georgia’s accession to the EU.
Besides being personally or politically dissatisfied, what other factors do you think might be related to disapproval of closer ties between Georgia and the EU? The data set used for this post will be available online shortly, and you too can investigate the numbers here with our online data analysis tool.