Monday, February 01, 2016

The Georgian public's perceptions of the EU’s and Russia’s influence on the country

Numerous news reports in 2015 focused on foreign influence in Georgia (for instance, see the Financial Times, The Washington Post, Al Jazeera, the Wall Street Journal, Foreign Policy, the BBC, Foreign Affairs for some of the stories related to Russian influence), but how does the Georgian public see the situation? This blog post takes a look at how much influence the Georgian public think two foreign powers, the EU and Russia, have on Georgia compared with how much influence they think these powers should have, using August 2015 National Democratic Institute (NDI) and CRRC-Georgia survey findings.

The Georgian public thinks that Russia has more influence on Georgia than it should have. Forty-nine percent of Georgians assess Russia’s political influence on Georgia as somewhat or very high, while only six percent thinks it should be so. Sixty-eight percent think Russia’s political influence on Georgia should be low or that they should have no influence at all. When it comes to cultural influence, the mismatch is smaller although the pattern remains similar – 43% of Georgians assess Russia’s cultural influence as low  or none, while 58% think that it should be low  or none. When it comes to economic influence, 30% of Georgians assess Russia’s influence on Georgia as somewhat or very high, while only 12% think it should be so.

In comparison with Russia, the influence that the Georgian public thinks the EU should have in Georgia is closer to influence Georgians think it does have, but there is still a mismatch, especially when it comes to assessments of political influence.

The share of Georgians who think that Russian influence on Georgia has increased since 2012 is higher than the share of those who think that EU influence has increased in the same period (44% and 17%, respectively).

When it comes to foreign influence on Georgia, Georgians clearly think that Russia has much more political, economic, and cultural influence than it should have. The assessments are much more similar in case of the EU. Notably, more Georgians perceive Russian influence as having increased since 2012 than those who think the EU’s influence has increased.

Want to explore the data in more depth? Take a look here, using our online data analysis tool.

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