Giorgi Gakharia has seen his approval rating rise to a record 46%, with 32% rating his performance as Georgian Prime Minister as average and only 17% saying he is doing badly, according to new polling from NDI Georgia.
The polling was carried out on 17–24 December by CRRC Georgia, with over 2,000 people surveyed and a reported margin of error of +/– 1.1%.
The ruling Georgian Dream party fared well overall in the polls, with the government’s performance jumping to 50%, up from 30% in November. President Zurabishvili, who has proven unpopular since being elected in November 2018, saw her approval increase slightly from 9% to 15%, with those rating her performance badly dropping from 54% to 36%.
The opposition did worse, with those naming the United National Movement (UNM) as the party closest to them dropping to 5%, the lowest figure in an NDI poll since the survey began. Support for Georgian Dream rose to 31%.
As in previous polls, a large number of respondents said that there was ‘no party’ that they felt was closest to them, with 25% answering this way in the December poll. When combined with those answering ‘don’t know’ or ‘refuse to answer’, 54% did not name any party they believed was closest to them.
Those surveyed remained critical of the state of democracy in Georgia, with 42% saying Georgia was not a democracy and 38% saying the country was going in the wrong direction, against 32% saying it was going in the right direction.
COVID and economic woes
As in previous polls, the economy dominated the national issues named by respondents as being the most important for them and their families. Jobs was named by 46%, poverty by 37%, and rising prices by 31%.
Economic concerns did not differ substantially in terms of party support or type of settlement. Respondents naming COVID-19 as among the most pressing national issues, however, were slightly higher outside Tbilisi.
Concern about COVID-19 substantially rose according to the new polls, from 3% in August to 16% in the December poll. This follows a large increase in the number of daily new cases and deaths due to coronavirus in Georgia since September.
Georgians rated the government’s handling of pandemic positively, with 60% saying they had done a good job.
However, they appeared to be pessimistic about the future of the pandemic in Georgia, with 39% of those surveyed saying the worst was yet to come against 33% saying the ‘worst is behind’.
The poll also indicated that except for the general affordability of the cost of medicines, in terms of COVID-19 treatment, Georgians were confident about receiving emergency services and testing.
Forty-one per cent of respondents said they would not get vaccinated, which did not substantially vary according to settlement type. Women, opposition supporters and those not naming a political preference, and young people aged 18–34 were all more likely to be vaccine sceptics.
Amiran Gamkrelidze, Director of Georgia’s National Centre for Disease Control responded to the poll that the numbers on vaccine sceptics ‘were not bad’, adding that Georgia should aim for 70%–80% compliance for mass inoculation, and urged the media to contribute to informing the public.