Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Changes in public opinion between 2011 and 2017

A lot changed in Georgia between 2011 and 2017, including the government. New promises and new regulations have been made and new priorities set by politicians. A visa free regime with the Schengen zone countries came into force. An ultranationalist ‘Georgian March’ was organized. A Georgian priest was charged with conspiracy to murder the Secretary of the Patriarch of the Georgian Orthodox Church, the most trusted institution in Georgia. This list is by no means exhaustive, but it does raise questions about whether and how public opinion has changed against the backdrop of these and other events.

Using data from five waves of CRRC’s Caucasus Barometer survey (2011, 2012, 2013, 2015 and 2017) and four waves of EF/CRRC’s Knowledge of and Attitudes towards the EU in Georgia survey (2011, 2013, 2015 and 2017), this blog post highlights five of the many important changes in public opinion between 2011 and 2017. We do not, however, attempt to explain or link these changes to specific events, leaving the interpretation to the reader.

CRRC’s time-series data show that:

1. Between 2011 and 2017, Georgia’s population became more aware of their rights and powers as citizens. There is an 11 percentage point increase in the share of those who think that people like themselves have the right to openly say what they think, while the share of people who think that it is important for a good citizen to be critical towards the government increased by 14 percentage points. Moreover, the share of those who agree with the statement that “People should participate in protest actions against the government, as this shows the government that the people are in charge” doubled since 2011, reaching 62% in 2017. 

2. People in Georgia acknowledged the importance of volunteering and started practicing it. The share of people who think that it is important for a good citizen to do volunteer work meeting the needs of the community without expecting any compensation increased by 38 percentage points since 2011. The share of those who report having volunteering experience themselves increased as well, although less impressively.

3. People became less trustful of other people, and of major social and political institutions. The share of people who report trusting parliament and executive and local government decreased by more than 10 percentage points in each of these cases. Distrust is on the rise not only towards government institutions, but also towards businesses and religious institutions. The share of people who report trusting banks decreased by 20 percentage points and the share of people who report trusting the religious institutions to which they belong decreased by 18 percentage points. People report less trust towards each other as well: the share of those who think that one can't be too careful in dealing with people increased by 19 percentage points.

4. Georgia’s population became less optimistic about domestic politics and more doubtful about Georgia’s prospects for EU integration. Compared to 2011, there is a 25 percentage point drop in the share of people reporting that Georgia’s domestic politics is going in the right direction, and less people now report trusting the EU. Moreover, the share of people who think that the EU threatens Georgian traditions increased from 29% to 41%. Considering the high importance people attach to respect of traditions, which has remained unchanged in Georgia during these years, this trend once again indicates decreased support for the EU in Georgia.

5. People’ assessments of their economic situation and health became worse, but they report being slightly happier overall. The share of people who report having personal debts increased by 12 percentage points, while the share of those who rate their overall health as good decreased by 10 percentage points. At the same time, the share of people who report that, overall, they are happy increased by 10 percentage points during the last seven years.

We’ve highlighted only some of the many changes in the public opinion between 2011 and 2017. To explore the data more, try CRRC’s online data analysis tool and the datasets available from caucasusbarometer.org, and share what you find with us.

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