Some Thoughts On The Latest IRI Survey
Let us start with the issue of the credibility of the IRI survey. No doubt, this poll can be trusted, no matter what our authorities and some politicians say. However, at the same time, it should be well understood that the IRI survey captures the societal tendencies as of the end of June this year, when the survey was conducted. The survey revealed that the support for the ruling party accounted for 33%.
Now let us have a look at a survey by another, no less reputable organization, Edison Research. According to their data, support for the “Georgian Dream” amounted to 40%. Does this mean that some of the surveys are giving us false information? No, it's just that the Edison Research survey was conducted in late May - early June. It is impossible to directly compare the results of these surveys, simply because there are some differences in the methodology, although they are similar in many aspects. However, if we conclude that the popularity rate of the ruling party has decreased in just three weeks, I think we will not be mistaken.
Let me give you another example: at about the same period, the authorities also conducted their own polls, and, according to the poll findings, the popularity of “Dream” accounted for 58%. When asked about the survey methodology, the authorities stated that only the allocation method was used. I am not a poll expert, but people with some expertise in polling did have a smile on their faces.
Going further, does this mean that the “Georgian Dream” is not the most popular political party in Georgia today, and it will lose in the upcoming elections? No, it does not. The «Georgian Dream”’s access to the administrative and financial resources is incomparable to that of the other parties. Moreover, it has built a reputational success in fighting against the COVID-19 outbreak and has a significant background in exploiting methods that have traditionally been used by the authorities throughout the years. Methods, ranging from the wide distribution of social benefits (and the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has created a perfect excuse for that) to receiving support of the criminal and semi-criminal structures. But does this mean that the government will definitely win?
No, it does not mean that at all. Several components need to be in place for the “Dream” to win in the October 2020 Parliamentary Elections. For example, neutralization of the sharply negative effect of the severe economic crisis that Georgia is currently faced with, along with the weakening of the unwavering attention of the Western partners. Will it happen? I am not sure about that. Moreover, it is likely that the social tensions and pressure from Washington and Brussels will increase even more. However, this is not the biggest threat to the position of the current government. The greatest threat, in turn, derives from the current government itself, as when faced with the political turbulence, the authorities often shoot themselves in the foot with rash political steps.
Of course, a lot will depend on the actions of the opposition, and I do not agree that the opposition must necessarily be united during the election period. With the current structure of the electoral system, each opposition party being on its own would be enough for the opposition success to be ensured, as each individual party has its own voter base.
Nevertheless, if (or when) the authorities try to falsify the election results; the unity of the opposition is of crucial importance. In the meantime, I will never get tired of repeating - the election results are but an equation with many everchanging unknowns. It is,therefore, too early to talk about what the results will look like.
Gela Vasadze, Georgian Centre of Strategic Analysis, GSAC