Public opinion polls are not a substitute for opinion

Published in Economics
Monday, 07 November 2022 15:18

Zaal Anjaparidze, political analyst (Tbilisi, Georgia)

Political actors are increasingly and proactively trying to manipulate public opinion polls. Georgia is not an exception in this respect.

In this regard, a truly unique situation has been created in our country. Public opinion surveys in Georgia have been practically monopolized for years by American organizations (NDI, IRI) and their local contractors, which are financed by international donors. Sociological surveys are practically not financed by the state from the local budget. Therefore, we should not be surprised that the existing polls, in addition to sociology, also serve the interests of their sponsors to create the appropriate political and social conjuncture in the country.

Today, the one of the central topics in the country is to obtain the status of a candidate for EU membership and to fulfill the 12 recommendations of the European Commission. Although, based on polls, the narrative that European integration is the solid choice of the majority of the Georgian population has been firmly established in Georgia. However, how true this is, especially in the light of recent events in the country?!.

In July-August 2022, NDI's public opinion poll shows that the support of the European Union by the population of Georgia is 75%. Although this is 5-7% less than the results of previous months (80-80%), it is still an impressive majority. However, let's not rush to final conclusions.

If you aspire to be a member of any union, you should have a very positive attitude towards it. At this time, in the sociological research conducted by the European Foundation in 2021, we read: "Overall, 46 percent of Georgians have either very positive (16%) or rather positive (30%) attitudes towards the European Union. About 43% have a neutral outlook, while a minority (7%) has either a rather negative or very negative attitude." It turns out that only 46% of our population, or less than half(!), consciously supports the European Union.

The point is that in the polls sponsored by Western donors, it is clear that the attempt is not to question the pro-European orientation of the population of Georgia, in which they have invested. That's why, even if they receive an unwanted image, they try to model this image so as not to violate professional standards too much. Political messages can also be read in the titles of individual blocks. For example, to reinforce a pro-European message, NDI says, "Most people are convinced that Georgia would benefit more from European and Euro-Atlantic integration than from close relations with Russia." How did NDI measure and determine the degree of "certainty" of respondents when its survey only has one question on European integration? posed and it does not attempt to determine what is really behind the respondent's “YES” or “NO”.

It is very interesting, in a survey by the European Foundation, how only 46% of those who love the European Union agree with 77% of those who are in favor of joining the European Union? One of the most realistic options for the answer is consumerism with the EU, not value unity. In the presence of this unity, there would be neither the problem of holding an LGBT-march in the center of Tbilisi, nor such intense unacceptability of same-sex marriage that a relevant entry in the constitution became necessary. Examples can be continued.

In addition, the survey data is seriously distorted by the so-called respondents themselves. A "self-selection" or "self-censoring" effect, where a certain percentage of respondents consistently refuse to participate in a survey or do not provide a response. It is even more problematic, the so-called "Falsification of preferences" - a situation where instead of giving an honest answer to a directly asked question, the respondent gives an answer that is expected from him by an imaginary majority. Therefore, we should not be surprised by the many "YES" answers to the direct question of support for European integration during the said surveys. In addition to the above-mentioned reasons, this can also be explained by the respondent's desire for psychological comfort, as well as conformist behavior and fear of social condemnation. If we take into account the information-psychological environment and pressure created with us, a different view from the mainstream opinion is considered a betrayal of the state and a crime. It turns out that the conducted surveys actually measure not the respondent's true attitude towards a specific issue, but only his socially and politically acceptable attitude.

Considering all the above-mentioned circumstances, it is not difficult to guess how the 81-83% rate of support for European integration, or the unusually high rating of some faceless but acceptable person for the client, is established. These are all tools of political and psychological manipulation, and it seems that our political class and society have come to terms with this modeled reality.

The situation will not change until the state changes its attitude towards this issue and creates national public opinion research institutions in the country. The situation will also not change if trust in the polls themselves, their commissions, operators and results is not measured. Episodic studies on this issue are not enough and cannot change the weather.

In general, the importance of polls was probably best summed up by Margaret Thatcher: "If you are guided by opinion polls, you are not practicing leadership -- you are practicing followership.”

Public attitudes toward LGBTQI people in Georgia are changing, yet the protection and realization of their rights remain a challenge

Published in Society
Friday, 06 May 2022 16:24

The United Nations and the Government of Sweden unveil research on human rights, legal protection and public attitudes toward the LGBTQI community in Georgia

TBILISI. 6 May 2022 – The LGBTQI people remain one of the least protected and most marginalized social groups in Georgia. They face discrimination and violence, while the protection and realization of their rights remain a challenge. Yet, recent research reveals that negative public attitudes toward the LGBTQI community have been decreasing in the last five years.

A series of studies were conducted by Georgia’s Public Defender’s Office and the non-governmental organization ‘Women’s Initiatives Support Group’ (WISG) with assistance from the Government of Sweden and the United Nations through its three agencies – UN Women, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

The research reviews international standards in protecting LGBTQI rights and Georgia’s commitments in this area. It analyses the legal environment and widespread practices and examines public attitudes toward LGBTQI people in Georgia. The research also includes recommendations for specific state agencies.

The research findings point out positive changes in public attitudes in the last five years. Since 2016, the number of respondents who think that the LGBTQI community is interested in propaganda, and not in achieving equality, has decreased by 20.6 percent (55.9 percent in 2021 compared to almost 78 percent in 2016). The number of people with an extremely negative attitude toward the LGBTQI community and its human rights defenders dropped by around 20 percent and now hovers around 56 percent.

However, the research also captures the negative perception of the LGBTQI community in Georgia’s society. 48.2 percent of the respondents believe that LGBTQI people are fighting for privileges. 39.5 percent are convinced that the rights of the LGBTQI community are fully protected. At the same time, 38.6 percent note inadequate state response to the acts of violence and discrimination faced by the LGBTQI people.

The research was conducted under the UN Joint Programme for Gender Equality, a Sweden-funded initiative implemented by UN Women, UNDP and UNFPA. Its reports are available on the UNDP website

Public Defender’s Statement on International Human Rights Day

Published in Society
Friday, 10 December 2021 17:23

Every year, on December 9, the Public Defender of Georgia traditionally joins the celebration of the International Human Rights Day.

On December 9, 2021, the Tbilisi Human Rights House held an event on the occasion of the International Human Rights Day, where Public Defender Nino Lomjaria once again emphasized the special role of human rights defenders in promoting human rights and the rule of law in a democratic society.

The Public Defender spoke about the challenges facing human rights defenders, reviewed the Human Rights Manual developed by the Public Defender’s Office, which aims to refine the definition of a human rights defender and to outline the obligations of the State to protect and promote the activities of human rights defenders.

"Our monitoring has revealed a number of unfortunate trends of attacks on human rights defenders. Among them, statements made by high officials aimed at discrediting NGOs working on issues of crucial importance for democratic development still need to be emphasized. We have criticized a number of similar cases in the past,[1] and we reiterate that, by international standards, officials are obliged to refrain from being engaged in negative campaigns against human rights defenders and their activities, to publicly acknowledge the need to protect them and to emphasize the importance of their activities even when critical towards the authorities", - said Nino Lomjaria.

The Public Defender called the physical attacks by the violent groups on human rights defenders and the offices of Tbilisi Pride and Shame Movement on July 5, the day of the March of Dignity, which could not be prevented by the law enforcers, especially alarming. She spoke about the criminal acts committed against media representatives and the need for their timely and effective investigation.[2] The scale of the problem was made even clearer by the events of July 5, during which more than 40 representatives of the media were injured. Reports of alleged criminal acts against media representatives were also spread during both rounds of the self-government elections.

According to the Public Defender, the cynical attitude of politicians towards journalists, especially representatives of critical media, and the discrediting campaign[3] against the background of the existing hostile environment, further exacerbate violence against them.

At the end of her speech, the Public Defender addressed the Prosecutor's Office and the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia with a recommendation to ensure the timely investigation of crimes committed against representatives of the media, to identify those responsible and to take measures against them in accordance with law, as well as to inform the public about the ongoing investigation.

She also called on political officials to follow internationally recognized democratic standards and to refrain from being engaged in campaigns aimed at discrediting human rights defenders, including journalists, in order to facilitate their work as much as possible.


[1] Parliamentary Report of the Public Defender of Georgia 2019, p. 251, available at: <https://bit.ly/3CJscy1> [09.12.2021]; See also the statement of the Public Defender of Georgia of October 24, 2018 on the International obligations of the Government to support the activities of human rights defenders, available at: <https://bit.ly/3kBAySa> [09.12.2021]

[2] Statements of the Public Defender of Georgia are available on the website: <https://bit.ly/3CDI58Z>, <https://bit.ly/3AAGtMN>, <https://bit.ly/3lLqiWG>, , <https://bit.ly/2W3IlOX> [23.09.2021].

[3] Information is available on the website: <https://bit.ly/3yajvM8>, <https://bit.ly/3EwXSHX>, <https://bit.ly/3lCyQzZ>, <https://netgazeti.ge/news / 555767 />, <https://bit.ly/3oy0qQw> [09.12.2021].

 

Public Defender Demands Criminal Prosecution of Two Persons for Organizing Group Violence and Calling for Violence on July 5

Published in Justice
Monday, 06 September 2021 14:18

Two months have passed since the violent events of July 5, but the Georgian Prosecutor's Office has not launched criminal prosecution against any individual for organizing group violence. The Public Defender Nino Lomjaria examined the video footage[1] released by the media and considers that the publicly available evidence reaches the standard of probable cause for launching criminal proceedings against two persons for organizing group violence as well as for publicly calling for violence.

Pursuant to Article 21 (c) of the Organic Law of Georgia on the Public Defender of Georgia, the Public Defender is entitled to request the initiation of an investigation and/or criminal prosecution if the examination of the case shows elements of crime. Accordingly, the Public Defender has already used the authority granted by the organic law and applied to the Prosecutor's Office with a request to initiate criminal proceedings against Zurab Makharadze and Spiridon Tskipurishvili.

The proposal to launch prosecution was based on publicly released videos showing that before the July 5 violence, on Alt-Info TV, Zurab Makharadze and other individuals had been continuously announcing violence against participants in the event planned by Tbilisi Pride. Violent calls were also heard against journalists. The same individuals spread information on television about the formation of groups with the direct purpose of violence on July 5.

It is substantiated in the Public Defender’s proposal that Zurab Makharadze personally led the group violence on July 5, including the removal of protest tents in front of the legislative body and the allocation of various groups to raid the offices of the Shame Movement and Tbilisi Pride.

Finally, according to the Prosecutor General’s Office of Georgia, 53 persons were identified as victims of the group violence on July 5, 2021, and criminal proceedings were launched against 27 persons. However, no one has been prosecuted for organizing group violence.

In addition, the Public Defender made another proposal to the Prosecutor General's Office and demanded the launch of criminal proceedings against Spiridon Tskipurishvili for publicly calling for violent actions. It was established according to the standard of probable cause that on July 5, at about 14:14, the Archpriest of the Georgian Orthodox Church, Spiridon Tskipurishvili, by using a microphone and sound enhancer devices, called on citizens to be violent, thus went beyond the freedom of expression and committed an action forbidden by Article 2391 of the Criminal Code of Georgia – call for violence that creates an obvious, direct and substantial threat of violence.

The Public Defender continues to gather information about the investigation ongoing into the July 5 violence and, if necessary, will again use the authority given to her by the organic law.

Source: https://www.ombudsman.ge/eng/akhali-ambebi/sakhalkho-damtsveli-5-ivliss-jgufuri-dzaladobis-organizebisa-da-dzaladobisken-motsodebis-faktebze-2-piris-mimart-siskhlissamartlebrivi-devnis-datsqebas-moitkhovs

2020 PUBLIC OPINION POLL ABOUT THE EUROPEAN UNION

Published in Economics
Wednesday, 17 June 2020 10:59

The EU-funded ‘EU NEIGHBOURS east’ project has conducted the 2020 opinion poll in the six countries of the Eastern Partnership (EaP) - Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine. The survey (field work) took place between February and March 2020 (before COVID-19 crisis) and was based upon face-to-face interviews among a representative sample of 1,000 people per country. The annual surveys are now into their fifth year, with the first wave having been carried out in 2016. The results from the six Eastern partner countries are presented in national reports and a consolidated regional overview report.

Here below are the key findings in GEORGIA – more details may be found in the factsheets and report at the links indicated below.

MAIN FINDINGS

 

  • 77% of Georgians feel relations with the European Union are good.

 

  • 69% of people in Georgia trust the EU, while only 28% trust the Eurasian Economic Union.

 

  • 49% of Georgians have a positive image of the European Union (EU). Only 7% of Georgianshave a negative view of the EU.

 

  • 61% of Georgians are aware of the EU’s financial support to the country, and 69% of them consider the support to be effective.

 

LINKS

 

 

SES JOINS NEWLY ELECTED BOARD OF 5G INFRASTRUCTURE ASSOCIATION

Published in World
Tuesday, 13 December 2016 17:26

Christine Leurquin of SES elected to the Board of the 5G Infrastructure Association

LUXEMBOURG, 12 December 2016 -- SES S.A. (Euronext Paris and Luxembourg Stock Exchange: SESG) announced today that Christine Leurquin, Vice President, Institutional Relations and Communications at SES, has been elected to the Board of the 5G Infrastructure Association.

The role of the 5G Infrastructure Association in the 5G Infrastructure Public Private Partnership (PPP) is to be the counterpart to the EU Commission on the private side of the 5G PPP. Its work includes preparing contributions to the dedicated 5G PPP work program in Horizon 2020. Its aim is also to contribute to 5G policy-oriented topics on standards, spectrum and trials, as well as interaction with international partners.

Once deployed, 5G will be the key enabler for the further digitalisation of the European economy, accommodating the diverse connectivity needs of industrial applications such as high speed, low latency, resilience and ubiquity. 5G networks will serve a broad range of industries, especially the automotive, transportation, healthcare, energy, manufacturing and media and entertainment sectors.

“5G is a strategic technology representing a critical building block of the European digital society in the next decade. The satellite industry is active in 5G initiatives, such as the EU’s Horizon2020, ETSI, ESA, CEPT, the 3GPP and the 5GPPP,” said Christine Leurquin. “The satellite, terrestrial and other industries must work closely together to make 5G deployment a success. Only an open dialogue and collaboration will create the hybrid networks that will provide truly seamless geographic coverage and ubiquitous user experience.”

SES has been one of the contributors to the 5G initiatives, including the 5G Action Plan. In July 2016, SES signed the “5G Manifesto for Timely Deployment of 5G in Europe”, a document fostering effective interactions and collaboration with industry verticals and formation of ecosystems.

To provide further global and scalable next generation connectivity, SES has invested in high throughput Geosynchronous Earth Orbit (GEO) satellites and O3b’s Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) satellites. The combination of GEO’s high-powered global coverage and MEO’s low latency capabilities will accelerate the 5G deployment.

Follow us on:

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Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SES.YourSatelliteCompany

YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/SESVideoChannel

Blog: http://www.ses.com/blog

SES Pictures are available under http://www.ses.com/21472913/Our_Pictures

SES White papers are available under http://www.ses.com/18681915/white-papers

About SES

SES is the world-leading satellite operator and the first to deliver a differentiated and scalable GEO-MEO offering worldwide, with more than 50 satellites in Geostationary Earth Orbit (GEO) and 12 in Medium Earth Orbit (MEO). SES focuses on value-added, end-to-end solutions in four key market verticals (Video, Enterprise, Mobility and Government). It provides satellite communications services to broadcasters, content and internet service providers, mobile and fixed network operators, governments and institutions, and businesses worldwide. SES’s portfolio includes the ASTRA satellite system, which has the largest Direct-to-Home (DTH) television reach in Europe, and O3b Networks, a global managed data communications service provider. Another SES subsidiary, MX1, is a leading media service provider and offers a full suite of innovative digital video and media services. Further information available at: www.ses.com

What Do Georgians Think About Public Services?

Published in Society
Wednesday, 27 July 2016 22:57

Quality of roads, public kindergartens, cleaning service and citizen engagement in decision-making are in focus of a research commissioned by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Swiss Cooperation Office (SCO) for the South Caucasus and Austrian Development Cooperation (ADC) and carried out by the Georgian research company ACT in November 2015.

The discussion about key findings of the study on 27 July 2016 brought together representatives of the Georgian Government, Parliament, local authorities, civil society and international organizations.

Niels Scott, Head of UNDP in Georgia, and Tengiz Shergelashvili, Deputy Minister of Regional Development and Infrastructure of Georgia, addressed the participants of an event with welcome remarks.

The comprehensive nation-wide research is based on interviews with 3,800 citizens over the age of 18 in all regions of Georgia. It examines public views about the services that are currently provided by municipalities and central government, provides comparative analysis with the similar study conducted in 2013, and includes recommendations for local authorities based on the perceptions and expectations of citizens.

The research is part of a wider programme supported by UNDP, Swiss Cooperation Office (SCO) for the South Caucasus and Austrian Development Cooperation (ADC) to assist self-governance reform in Georgia.

A Study Reveals What Georgians Think about Public Services

Published in Society
Tuesday, 26 July 2016 16:22

Quality of roads, public kindergartens, cleaning service and citizen engagement in decision-making are in focus of a research that will be presented on Wednesday, July 27, 2016, 10:00 am, in Radisson Blu Iveria Hotel (1 Rose Revolution Square, Tbilisi, Georgia).

Niels Scott, Head of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Georgia, and Tengiz Shergelashvili, Deputy Minister of Regional Development and Infrastructure of Georgia, will open an event that will bring together representatives of the Georgian Government, Parliament, local authorities, civil society and international organizations.

The comprehensive nation-wide research of citizen satisfaction with public services in Georgia was commissioned by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Swiss Cooperation Office (SCO) for the South Caucasus and Austrian Development Cooperation (ADC) and carried out by the Georgian research company ACT in November 2015.

The study is based on interviews with 3,800 citizens of Georgia over the age of 18 in all regions of Georgia. It examines public views about the services that are currently provided by municipalities and central government, provides comparative analysis with the similar study conducted in 2013, and includes recommendations for local authorities based on the perceptions and expectations of citizens.

A full report of the study will be available at the UNDP Georgia website: www.ge.undp.org

The research is part of a wider programme supported by UNDP, Swiss Cooperation Office (SCO) for the South Caucasus and Austrian Development Cooperation (ADC) to assist self-governance reform in Georgia.

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