Monday, June 23, 2014

Trust in local government in Georgia

On June 15th Georgian voters headed to the polls in local elections. There were problems leading up to the elections as detailed in last week's electoral notes. At present, results show a significant portion of positions in local government going to Georgian Dream Coalition (GD) candidates, though a number of races will go into second rounds. With the recent elections, one may be interested to know how Georgian citizens view their local government. This blog looks at levels of trust in local government from 2009-2013 and by settlement type (Rural, Urban, and Capital) in 2013.

In Georgia, the trend towards trust in local government over the last two years seems to be an increase in ambivalence from previous years. Between 2009 and 2013, distrust in local government has been relatively consistent, fluctuating between 16-21%, within the 5% margin of error of the Caucasus Barometer survey (CB), thus reflecting a relative stability in levels of distrust. In contrast, responses of neither trust nor distrust have increased and responses expressing trust have decreased compared with 2011. This could reflect the GD-UNM “cohabitation” in which many local government positions were still held by members of the UNM which is the current opposition while the GD holds the majority in national government institutions.

Note: In this graph and the graph below, a five-point scale has been recoded to a three-point scale with responses ‘1’ and ‘2’ coded as distrust, responses ‘3’ being coded as neither trust nor distrust, and responses ‘4’ and ‘5’ coded as trust. During the CB, respondents were read out a list of institutions and asked to “assess [their] level of trust toward each [institution] on a 5-point scale, where ‘1’ means ‘Fully distrust’, and ‘5’ means ‘Fully trust.”

Interestingly, trust in local government is much lower in Tbilisi and urban areas compared to rural areas. In rural areas, Georgians trust their local government (40%) more than twice as much as in Tbilisi (17%). Residents of the capital are more than twice as likely to express distrust in the local government with 28% reporting distrust in Tbilisi versus 12% in rural areas. Urban areas, not including Tbilisi, are more likely to express trust than Tbilisians, but interestingly express a similar level of distrust in local government as capital residents.

This blog post has reviewed levels of trust in local government over time. It shows that Georgians seem to have become ambivalent with regard to their view of local government. The blog further demonstrates that levels of trust in local government are higher in rural areas than in urban areas. If you would like to further explore issues of trust in Georgia and the South Caucasus more generally, view the blog post here, or explore the data further using our Online Data Analysis tool.

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