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On 24 March 2015, on air on the Rustavi 2 TV channel, a member of the Parliamentary Minority, Giorgi Kandelaki, whilst commenting upon the results of the International Republican Institute’s (IRI) latest survey, declared: "Since 2004, there has never been such a drastic decline in the number of people who think that the country is going in the right direction."

FactCheck

took interest in the accuracy of the MP’s statement and analysed the public opinion poll surveys conducted by the International Republican Institute.

The International Republican Institute (IRI) is a non-governmental organisation which was founded in 1983 and has been conducting public opinion polls in Georgia since 2003.

The IRI surveys in the form of public opinion polls are conducted by the random selection method engaging 1,500 respondents who are selected Georgia-wide for individual one-to-one interviews. Participants must be above the age of 18 years and eligible to vote. The final results of the public opinion polls are based upon the answers provided by respondents to specially drafted questions. The margin of error in the surveys does not exceed 3%.

One of the questions posed to respondents as a part of the IRI’s survey is the following: "Generally speaking, do you think that things in Georgia are going in the right or the wrong direction?" Giorgi Kandelaki based his statement upon the data which was gathered after the answers to this question were collected and processed.

According to the survey conducted in February 2015, 55% of the interviewed respondents think that the country is going in the wrong direction whilst 25% positively assesses the country’s course of development and 20% has no opinion.

In November 2012, when the Georgian Dream coalition took power, the majority of the population (63%) thought that the country was going in the right direction. A somewhat similar dynamic was maintained both in 2013 (56%) and 2014 (48%). Therefore, the number of respondents who think that the country is going in the right direction has dropped by 38% from 2012 to present day.

As mentioned by Giorgi Kandelaki, such a decline has not been registered since 2004. In 2004, in the wake of the Rose Revolution, 65% of the population thought that the country was going in the right direction. A similar trend was retained in June 2005 (65%) and October 2005 (50%).

According to the IRI surveys, April 2006 was the first time when more than half of the respondents answered that the country was going in the wrong direction whilst 39% believed the opposite and 10% had no opinion. Similar to 2015, the number of respondents who thought that the country was going in the right direction dropped by 26% in 2006 (after two years of the government which took power after the Rose Revolution).

In the period 2006-2008, the number of supporters of Georgia’s course of development fluctuated within the margins of 36%-47%. As for 2009, the number of respondents who thought that the country was going in the right direction dropped from 47% (September 2008) to 21% (a 21% decline). Since October 2009 and including 2012, that number has become stable and has been alternating between 41%-63%.

Graph 1:

International Republican Institute Public Opinion Poll Survey Results on the Country’s Direction (2004-2015)

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 Source: International Republican Institute

Conclusion

According to the latest International Republican Institute (IRI) survey, 55% of the respondents participating in the public opinion poll think that the country is going in the wrong direction whilst 25% positively assesses the country’s course of development and 20% has no opinion. After the 2012 parliamentary elections, the majority of the population (63%) thought that the country was going in the right direction. Therefore, the number of respondents who think that the country is going in the right direction dropped by 38% from 2012 to present day.

However, the number of people who approved Georgia’s course of development decreased under the previous government’s watch as well. In 2006, the number of people who thought that the country was going in the right direction dropped by 26% as compared to 2004. Additionally, the number of respondents who thought that the country was going in the right direction has dropped by 26% since September 2008 (47%) and constituted 21%. Even though the aforementioned trend of decline is less than 38%, it still represents a significant number.

After analysing the circumstances given in the article, FactCheck concludes that Giorgi Kandelaki’s statement: "Since 2004, there has never been such a drastic decline in the number of people who think that the country is going in the right direction," is TRUE.
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