Thursday, October 27, 2016

Perceptions of closeness: Opinions about which regions’ traditions and modern culture are closest to Armenian’s and Georgian’s

CRRC’s 2015 Caucasus Barometer (CB) survey asked the populations of Georgia and Armenia to identify the regions in the world whose traditions and modern culture are, in their opinion, closest to Armenia’s and Georgia’s. While most people in both countries feel closest to neighboring countries, many found it difficult to answer the questions. While there are many commonalities in responses to these questions in Armenia and Georgia, there are also minor differences.

Two questions were asked in CB. One focused on traditions and the other on modern culture. In both cases, the same show card was offered to the respondents. When it comes to traditions, the populations of both countries named most often “neighboring countries in the South Caucasus”, but this answer was more common in Armenia (36%) than in Georgia (27%). Interestingly, in both countries people found it similarly difficult to answer this question. Roughly one third of Armenians (30%) and Georgians (36%) could not or refused to answer the question.

Besides similarities, there are also differences. The “European part of Russia” was the second most common answer in Georgia (15%), and the third most common in Armenia (8%). In Armenia, “Neighboring countries in Asia” was the second most common answer, although the difference in frequencies of naming these regions in Armenia is within the margin of error. It is clear though that the population of Georgia generally does not consider the traditions of “Neighboring countries in Asia” to be close to Georgian traditions.  

The responses did not change much when people were asked which region’s modern culture they considered closest to their own. Slightly more Armenians (30%) named neighboring countries in the South Caucasus than did Georgians (23%), and the “European part of Russia” was, again, the second most common response in Georgia (13%) and third in Armenia (8%), with even higher shares of those answering “Don’t know”. Importantly, comparison of the answers to these two questions suggests that the populations of these countries do not see important differences between the traditions, on the one hand, and modern cultures, on the other hand, of the regions worldwide. 

Interestingly, in both countries, responses are quite similar in different settlement types (Georgia, Armenia), age groups (Georgia, Armenia), and by gender (Georgia, Armenia).

Despite minor differences, the populations of Armenia and Georgia have similar views about their cultures’ propinquity to other cultures in the world. Yet, in both countries a large share of the population find it difficult to answer the respective questions.

The datasets used in this blog post and related documentation are available at CRRC’s online data analysis platform. 

Monday, October 24, 2016

Trends in the data: Changes in Employment Sector and Type of Employment in Georgia

According to CRRC’s Caucasus Barometer (CB) surveys from 2008 to 2015, the self-reported employment rate is rather stable in Georgia – approximately 35%. This blog post looks at the trends in CB data on primary employment sector and type of primary workplace. Throughout the post, only the answers of those who reported being employed – slightly above a third of the population – are analyzed.

In 2015, as in previous waves of CB, the largest share of those who considered themselves employed – 14% – reported being employed in the agriculture, hunting, or forestry sector. Importantly, however, this share has declined considerably since 2008, when 29% of the employed reported being employed in this sector. Over the same period, the shares of those employed in other major sectors (trade, education, construction) have remained stable.

Note: In addition to actual responses of “Other”, several other options of low frequency are also included in this category on the chart above. That is, category “Other” in this chart includes responses “Healthcare and Social work”, “Financial Intermediation and Banking”, “Hotels, Restaurants, Cafes”, “Manufacturing”, “Transport and Storage”, “Electricity, Gas, and Water Supply” and “Mining and Quarrying”. 

A similar downward trend is observed between 2008 and 2015 in the share of employees who reported “owning a business without employees.” While in 2008, this share was about a third of those who were employed, roughly equal to those employed by state organizations, it decreased to 21% in 2015.

Although these two findings are not necessarily related, they show interesting trends in the employment situation in Georgia. Fewer people report working in the agriculture, hunting, and forestry sector, and fewer people report being sole proprietors than in the past. Both these trends suggest that the composition of the Georgian labor market may be shifting, and both call for further and thorough analysis.

CRRC’s Caucasus Barometer survey data and respective documentation are available at our online data analysis tool.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Analysis of Preliminary Election Results

[The final results of the DEFDA project's election forensics are available here. This blog post misreports one statistic (second digit mean of the 2012 proportional list results) due to a coding error during analysis. The above linked blog presents the final results.]

In order to help monitor the fidelity of the October 2016 parliamentary election results, CRRC-Georgia has carried out quantitative analysis of election-related statistics within the auspices of the Detecting Election Fraud through Data Analysis (DEFDA) project. Within the project we used methods from the field of election forensics. Election forensics is a field in political science that attempts to identify election day issues through looking at statistical patterns in election returns. This blog post reports the results of our analysis.

Our preliminary analysis suggests that the quality of the 2016 proportional list elections when it comes to election day was equivalent to the 2012 proportional list elections.

Before diving further into the results, several notes are needed. First, the data we used is preliminary. Jumpstart Georgia coordinated the double blind entry of election protocols with volunteers. We used their database, which is available here.  Second, the results presented in this blog post are based on data downloaded from Jumpstart’s platform on October 11th. Since then, the CEC appears to have added additional amendments to election protocols, which may change results.  Third, the analysis presented in this blog post is based on protocols from the 3491 protocols available on the 11th. Fourth, the test results are probabilistic. False positives should be expected 1 in 100 times. Fifth, the test results require substantive knowledge of the situation to interpret.

Below we present the results of the following election forensics tests:

  • Mean of second digit in turnout;
  • Skew of turnout;
  • Kurtosis of turnout;
  • Means of the final digit in turnout;
  • Frequency of zeros and fives in the final digit in turnout;
  • Unimodality test of turnout distribution.

Without getting into too much detail, we use a statistical method known as bootstrapping to generate a range of numbers by which the actually observed value for the above numbers could have fallen by chance (except for the final test, which looks at how many modes the distribution of turnout has). We then check whether the theoretically expected value for each is within the range generated by bootstrapping. In instances when the expected value does not fall within the generated range, it suggests the need for further investigation. The math and theory behind the above indicators is rather complex, and so here, rather than presenting this in more detail, we recommend interested readers take a look at Allen Hicken and Walter Mebane Jr.’s Guide to Election Forensics.

Below are the preliminary results of the above tests for the 2012 and 2016 proportional elections.

As the table shows, three test results were suspicious in 2012. The table below shows the results of the tests for the 2016 elections.

As you can see from the above results, in both elections, three tests were set off. Our interpretation of this is that the proportional elections, in terms of election day polling place activities, were roughly equivalent in quality as the 2012 elections. Given that the 2012 elections were considered to be broadly free and fair, our preliminary analysis suggests that the 2016 elections were broadly free and fair as well.

It is important to remember that these results are preliminary, and a blog post on our final results is forthcoming. For more on the subject, take a look at our past blog posts on the subject and keep an eye out for our report on the subject which will come out following the second round of the majoritarian elections.

Note: The DEFDA project is funded by the Embassy of the United States of America in Georgia, however, none of the views expressed in the above blog post represent the views of the US Embassy in Georgia or any related US Government entity.

Friday, October 07, 2016

Georgia is voting this Saturday. Here are 7 things you should know

[Note: This post was originally published on the Washington Post's Monkey Cage on Thursday, October 6, 2016. The original post is available here. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors alone and do not represent the views of CRRC-Georgia, Transparify, University of Colorado, Boulder, or any donor.]

By David Sichinava and Dustin Gilbreath

Voters are heading to the polls on October 8th in Georgia, the ex-Soviet republic, to elect its 150-seat parliament. For a country that has experienced near-continual political instability for the last 25 years, things have been calmer than usual this election season. Here’s what’s happening:

1. Things were relatively calm, and then a car bomb went off

Georgia has a history of colorful leaders and raucous elections. In the 2012 parliamentary elections, a prison torture scandal rocked the political landscape. In a not-so-democratic maneuver in 2014, Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili announced his Georgian Dream (GD) party “will not allow victory of any other political force in any town or district.”

In comparison, these elections had appeared quite calm. Current Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili has emphasized that while he expects GD to win, the most important thing is that the elections are free and fair. His tweets emphasize progress on governance and electoral reforms, and he invited numerous poll monitors to the October 8 elections.

There have been unruly moments. Rival politicians doused each other with water during a talk show - and on September 27, a recording surfaced  on YouTube suggesting the current opposition United National Movement (UNM) party might support a coup.

Then, on October 4th a bomb went off in a UNM politician’s car. While it is unclear who was responsible, the Prime Minister warned on Wednesday that the blast could be an attempt to destabilize the country just days before the October election.

2. The two main parties are likely to win seats

There are 25 parties running in the current elections. Polls to date suggest both GD and UNM will obtain seats in parliament. This may signal an important step - Georgia’s party system may be stabilizing. In the past, each government turnover saw the previous ruling party disappear altogether. The polling suggests the UNM appears to have developed a strong party base.

3. Georgian Dream may have a slight edge 

In Georgia’s mixed electoral system, there are 73 single-member constituency seats up for election, but candidates must have over 50 percent of the vote to win a seat outright. The remaining 77 seats go to parties by proportional representation - parties maintain a list of their candidates, but must win at least 5 percent of the national vote to claim their share of these seats.

The party list system may give GD a slight edge as they are leading in the polls. GD is also likely to win more seats in the individual races, because first-past-the-post elections favor the larger parties. Former Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili predicts his GD party will get 100 seats in parliament. In 2008, the UNM pulled off a similar feat to what Georgian Dream is planning: with 59 percent of the party list vote, they took 79 percent of the overall seats in parliament.

4. A new electoral law protects the equality of the vote, but the redistricting is perhaps less than equal 

Last year, the Constitutional Court ruled the country’s electoral boundaries were unconstitutional. The issue was the one-person, one-vote principle. In Kutaisi, 162,732 voters elected one representative in the first-past-the-post races. So did 5,810 voters in mountainous Kazbegi, meaning their vote had 28 times as much influence as a Kutaisian voter.

In response, the government redistricted – but there’s some evidence of gerrymandering. Our research shows that Georgian Dream would have won nine extra seats in 2012 if the new electoral system had been in place. And there are a few funny-looking electoral districts that have non-contiguous territory, which likely will give GD an electoral advantage.

A 2016 map showing some of Georgia’s new single-member constituency districts electoral districts. Areas from different administrative regions combined to form the 13th district, while districts 31 and 32 have non-contiguous sections.

Data: Central Elections Commission of Georgia and Caucasus Research Resource Centers-Georgia

Figure: David Sichinava

5. What’s likely to happen to pro-Russian parties? 

The coming parliament is likely to represent the political center, rather than parties at the pro-Russian or pro-Western extremes. The (quasi) pro-Russian party most likely to gain seats is the Patriot’s Alliance. While survey data suggest Patriot’s Alliance supporters are likely to support a Russia-oriented foreign policy, the party’s platform is largely pro-Western, and their website is only in English.

One pro-Russian party was booted off the ballot following public outrage from their first campaign ad. In the ad, the Centrist party had offered to “legalize” Russian military bases, pass legislation allowing dual Georgian-Russian citizenship, and raise pensions to Russian-levels.

6. What about pro-Western parties? 

The GD leadership has sought to assure the West that the country’s integration into Euro-Atlantic organizations is a top priority. The country remains heavily involved in NATO operations in Afghanistan, and still hopes to join NATO. In July, Georgia’s Association Agreement with the E.U. came into force. The E.U. indicated it wants to see clean elections if Georgia hopes to see implementation of a program granting visa-free access to E.U. countries.

But the new parliament may have few if any members of the Republican Party or the Free Democrats, two parties that hold staunch pro-Western views. In recent polling the Free Democrats almost hit the 5 percent threshold needed to win seats in the party list elections. The Republicans didn’t. It’s not clear how either party’s heavyweights like current Republican Speaker of Parliament David Usupashvili or the Free Democrats’ Irakli Alasania will fare in their single-constituency votes.

7. Many voters have yet to decide

A CRRC-Georgia and National Democratic Institute pre-election poll showed that only 49 percent of likely voters were decided. Although subsequent polling has shown lower levels of uncertainty, many voters may not decide until they get to the voting booth.

The fact that they will be able to decide at the voting booth, however, is an important point. The problems Georgia seems to be facing in its party politics are looking more like the ones facing a democracy.

David Sichinava is a Fulbright Visiting Scholar at the Institute of Behavioral Sciences at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and formerly a senior researcher at CRRC-Georgia.

Dustin Gilbreath is a policy analyst at CRRC-Georgia, and the communications manager at Transparify, an organization that promotes think tank financial transparency. He co-edits CRRC’s blog Social Science in the Caucasus.

The views expressed in this article represent the views of the authors alone, and do not represent the views of CRRC-Georgia, Transparify, University of Colorado, Boulder, or any donor.

Monday, October 03, 2016

Companies’ lack of interest in DCFTA trade may slow benefits

Positive expectations abound in Georgia around the potential impact of the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) Agreement with the EU. Yet, it is still unclear if the agreement’s trade-related components have increased trade. According to CRRC-Georgia’s Tax Perceptions Survey conducted from September to November 2015 for USAID’s Governing for Growth (G4G) project, only 6% of surveyed companies traded with the EU under the DCFTA Agreement. Moreover, according to the same survey, most Georgian companies report not being interested in trading in the DCFTA. This is a troubling finding, since, by law, all Georgian companies will eventually have to comply with DCFTA standards whether they export or not. That is to say, even if companies are not interested in exporting to the EU, the standards of their products will still need to increase. This will benefit consumers in the long run, but may hurt companies in the short term during the period of approximation of Georgian legislation with the EU’s.

When looking at the difference in absolute value of exports from Georgia to the EU one year before the agreement entered into force (September 2013 to August 2014) and the year after (September 2014 to August 2015), we see that it fell by 10% in US dollars, while the value of imports from the EU increased by 2% in USD. While the devaluation of the lari could be one explanation why the value fell, there was still a 7% drop in exports valued in lari. This decrease in exports is unexpected, given that DCFTA removed almost all tariffs between the EU and Georgia.

This change can be partially explained by the value of exports fluctuating from year to year.  The value of exports was particularly high during the period of September 2013 to August 2014, 61% higher in respect to the preceding 12-month period.

In addition to the absolute value of exports to the EU declining after the implementation of the DCFTA, the share of Georgia’s exports heading to the EU has not increased substantially either. Between September 2012 and August 2013, 17% of Georgia’s exports went to the EU. In the subsequent 12-month period, the respective share was 25%, and increased to just 26% in the year following DCFTA’s implementation in September 2014. That is to say, following DCFTA, the share of Georgian exports going to the EU increased by only one percentage point.

The EU is an important trade partner for Georgia, and the DCFTA should lead to increased trade between the EU and Georgia over time. However, it appears that it is yet to bear fruit in terms of exports to the EU. One factor that may be contributing to this is that, to a certain extent, the Government of Georgia has taken an "if we build it, they will come" approach to the implementation of the DCFTA. While the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia provides information to companies that want to export, there are few tailored forms of promotion outside general awareness-raising. This may explain why CRRC survey findings show that a majority of companies, even many of those involved in external trade, report to be uninterested in the DCFTA.

The Tax Perceptions Survey showed that 90% of surveyed companies do not trade under the DCFTA regime. Of these companies, 69% said it was because they were not interested, 11% because they did not know about it, and 8% because they could not satisfy the terms.

It makes sense that not every company would trade under the DCFTA agreement - a corner shop, for example, is unlikely to have a product to export after all. However, companies that export also expressed disinterest. Seventy percent of these companies reported they do not take advantage of the DCFTA and almost half (46%) reported they were not interested in it.

This lack of interest is a clear issue. The DCFTA Agreement will eventually require the approximation of Georgian legislation with the EU’s, and the vast majority of companies will need to comply with the terms of the agreement. Although this will result in improved quality of many products on the Georgian market, it will also create additional costs for businesses. Without greater interest in exporting, these costs will not be offset by the increased trade, potentially bringing pain upon the local economy.

The survey didn’t ask about why companies are not interested in the DCFTA. Hence, further research should be done to gather comprehensive information on the issue. In the meantime, the EU and the Government of Georgia should be alert to the fact that targeted outreach is needed to encourage companies to meet DCFTA requirements and provide support to make this process as painless as possible. Outreach should also target exporters to explain to them how they can benefit from the DCFTA.