Monday, November 13, 2017

Who should own land in Georgia? How attitudes changed between 2015 and 2017

[Note: This article originally appeared on OC-Media. It was written by Kristina Vacharadze, Programmes Director at CRRC-Georgia. The views presented in the article are the author’s alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views of CRRC-Georgia or the Europe Foundation.]

Georgian parliament recently adopted constitutional amendments. Among the many changes were those regulating the sale of agricultural land. According to the amendments, “Agricultural land, as a resource of special importance, can only be owned by the state, a self-governing entity, a citizen of Georgia, or a union of Georgian citizens.” While the constitution allows for exceptions, which should be regulated by a law yet to be written, it is expected that foreigners will not be allowed to buy agricultural land in Georgia as freely as Georgian citizens. This blog post looks at public opinion about foreigners owning land in Georgia.

A majority of the population (64%) think that land should only be owned by Georgian citizens no matter how they use it, according to the EF/CRRC survey on Knowledge of and Attitudes toward the EU in Georgia (EU survey) conducted in May 2017. This share increased by 21 percentage points since 2015.

Note: The original 11-point scale was recoded into a 5-point scale for the charts in this blog post. Codes 0 and 1 were combined into ‘Only citizens of Georgia should own land in Georgia, no matter how they use this land’; 2 and 3 into ‘2’; 4, 5 and 6 into ‘3’; 7 and 8 into ‘4’ and codes 9 and 10 - into ‘Land in Georgia should be owned by those who will use it in the most profitable way, no matter their citizenship’.  

The rural population is least favourable to the idea of foreign ownership of Georgian land. A large majority (74%) strongly believe that only citizens of Georgia should own land.

The younger population (18-35 years old) is more open towards foreigners owing land in Georgia. Approximately one in five believes that land should be owned by those who will use it in the most profitable way, irrespective of their citizenship. Older people are less open to foreign ownership. Still, in 2017 the proportion of young people who are more open towards foreigners owning land in Georgia dropped by seven percentage points compared to 2015, while the proportion of young people who think that the land should be owned only by Georgian citizens increased by 22 percentage points.

The majority of the population of Georgia do not favour foreigners buying land in the country. Younger people and those living in urban settlements appear more open to the idea of foreign ownership of Georgian land. But the number of those opposing foreign ownership of Georgian land is high and has increased in the past two years. 

Explore the data used in this blog post further using our Online Data Analysis tool.

Friday, November 03, 2017

Taking partly free voters seriously: autocratic response to voter preferences in Armenia and Georgia

Do voters in less than democratic contexts matter or are elections simply facades used to create a veneer of democratic accountability for domestic and international actors? Within the Autocratic Response to Voter Preferences in Armenia and Georgia project, funded by Academic Swiss Caucasus Net, CRRC-Georgia and CRRC-Armenia aimed to help answer this question, at least for Georgia and Armenia. On October 27, Caucasus Survey published the results of the project in a special issue, available here.

In the introduction of the issue, Koba Turmanidze and Matteo Fummagali ask do voters matter in competitive authoritarian regimes and, if so, how? Do their preferences make any difference in the way in which the regime conceives of policies and goes about policy-making? In their article, they argue that they do, and that incumbents take voters seriously. Crucially, the way the regimes respond to policy demand determines their durability in office. The article explains why, despite strong similarities, the political regime ruling Armenia remained stable over the years (from the mid-1990s), whereas the one in Georgia has been unseated on two occasions (2003–2004 and 2012–2013). Evidence confirms that policy-making and voters’ perceptions thereof also play an important role in determining whether a regime collapses or survives. The incumbents collect information on voter preferences, and devise policies in response to them. Policy-making thus matters and is extremely consequential. Paradoxically, however, policy-making makes a difference in counter-intuitive ways. The article concludes that a regime which refrains from making grand promises, or blatantly contradictory or unrealistic ones, has greater chances of surviving than those that set out to transform society, like Saakashvili’s Georgia. Ultimately, such policies backfire on those who launched them.

In the second article in the issue, Dustin Gilbreath and Koba Turmanidze highlight how state capacity volatility and growth affects political survival. Political science has dedicated extensive attention to the determinants of regime change as well as its relation to state capacity. Less work has focused on incumbent political survival and state capacity. Building on selectorate theory (Bueno De Mesquita et al., 2005), the article suggests that the chance of the party of the incumbent remaining in office is partially a function of the capacity of the state they hold power over. However, the authors also hypothesize that state capacity volatility decreases an incumbent’s chances of winning elections. To empirically test these hypotheses, the article uses a cross country statistical analysis complemented by illustrative case studies of policy making from Armenia and Georgia. The analyses support the above two hypotheses, showing that if the incumbent increases state capacity, it increases their chances of staying in office. However, capacity volatility decreases their chances of survival. While Georgian state capacity developed in fits, jumps, and starts, in Armenia state capacity developed at a slow and steady pace for most of its independence. As the aphorism goes, slow and steady wins the race with politicians being thrown out of office in Georgia and the incumbent in Armenia maintaining its power. Based on the analyses presented in the analyses, the authors suggest that a self-defeating game is at work for reformers.

In the third article in the issue, Dustin Gilbreath and Sona Balasanyan take a historic look at election fraud in Armenia and Georgia. In the article they note that elections on unfair playing fields are common, yet election day fraud can result in authoritarians losing office. The freer the environment, the more an authoritarian must rely on means other than election day fraud to retain office, because they are less capable of coercing the population without facing repercussions. Among those other means is cooptation through public policy. A common theme in the special issue is that public policy has been of greater import in Georgia than Armenia. The article makes a contribution to explaining the phenomenon using comparative case studies of election day fraud in Armenia and Georgia over time. To do so, the article uses methods from the field of election forensics to provide a quantitative comparison of the scale of election day fraud in each country’s elections since 2007 using precinct level election results for parliamentary and presidential elections. The test results suggest, as has been widely believed, that Georgia’s elections have had less election day fraud than Armenia’s during this period. This finding provides a theoretical basis to explain why public policy has been a greater concern in Georgia than Armenia.

In the fourth article in the issue, Giorgi Babunashvili argues that while voters are often assumed to be of tertiary importance in less than democratic contexts – the regime can manipulate, buy, or outright steal their votes goes the predominant logic – in reality, voters not only matter but engage in retrospective voting in Georgia, a country with imperfect political competition. Analysis of two waves of nationally representative survey data from 2012 to 2015 supports the retrospective voting theory, with a positive relationship between voter support for the incumbent party and positive assessments of government policies related to socio-economic, democratization, and security issues. Citizens who assess government policies negatively are more prone to voting for opposition candidates or not voting at all compared to those who are more satisfied with the government's performance in Georgia. Notably, these findings are very similar for two governments led by two very different parties in Georgia: the United National Movement (2008–2012) and Georgian Dream – Democratic Georgia (since 2012). Hence, the author concludes that disregarding voters’ preferences has negative consequences for the legitimation and survival of the incumbent.

In the fifth article in this issue, Koba Turmanidze asks: Lie a little or promise a lot? This is a question many politicians face when campaigning before elections. The paper examines whether voters support ambiguous pre-election promises in Armenia and Georgia using an experimental design and if so, what it tells us about accountability mechanisms and a potential accountability trap. The accountability trap emerges when voters cannot hold their elected officials accountable for their promises due to their ambiguity and become disillusioned with political participation. The paper looks at how voters’ expected political behaviour changes in response to randomly assigned types of electoral promises from a hypothetical party. The paper shows a positive effect of ambiguity: if a party makes an ambiguous promise, it will do significantly better in Georgia and at least not worse in Armenia than a party promising a specific policy option. The effect of ambiguity partially explains why parties have been poor at putting forward coherent electoral programs in Armenia and Georgia. More broadly, the findings contribute to understanding the problem of accountability in hybrid regimes, which may lead to representation crises.

In the sixth article in the issue, Rati Shubladze and Tsisana Khundadze point out that voters care about policy, and this is true for democracies as well as hybrid regimes. To show how incumbents’ policy choice influences political continuity and change they look at public policies in Armenia and Georgia from 2004 to 2013. The paper is grounded in Gerschewski’s theoretical framework that views legitimation, repression, and co-optation as the three strategies or pillars of stability in less than democratic regimes. The authors describe each pillar as a set of specific policies designed by ruling parties to gain legitimacy in the eyes of voters, as well as policies aimed at co-optation and/or repression of political opponents. Hence, they demonstrate that the key to the incumbent’s electoral survival is the stabilization process between pillars, i.e. complementary application of policies based on available resources. However, the application of different stabilization strategies is not enough and timing, organization, and balance between pillars are also crucial for maintaining voters’ support for the incumbent. Based on secondary statistical evidence and primary qualitative data analysis, they show how the Armenian government managed to balance the pillars of stability by the effective and well-timed application of different policies, while the government of Georgia failed to use relevant pillars of stabilization when one of the pillars did not work to the incumbent’s advantage.

Overall, the issue makes the case that voters - even in less than democratic contexts - matter.  To view the articles, click on the links above or here for the entire issue.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Georgian public increasingly unaware of what the European Union Monitoring Mission does

[Note: This article originally appeared at OC-Media. The article was written by Dustin Gilbreath, a Policy Analyst at CRRC-Georgia. The views presented in this article are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of CRRC-Georgia or Europe Foundation.]

As much as 81% of the population of Georgia doesn’t know what the European Union Monitoring Mission (EUMM) does, according to the 2017 Knowledge of and Attitudes towards the European Union in Georgia survey funded by Europe Foundation and implemented by CRRC-Georgia. This lack of knowledge has increased over time, as has the prevalence of incorrect information about the EUMM’s mission. This represents a missed opportunity for the EU’s communications in Georgia.

On the survey, respondents were asked, “What does the European Union Monitoring Mission do in Georgia?” A large plurality of the population (41%) reported they did not know what the EUMM does. The second most common response (25%) was “supports the implementation of democratic and market oriented reforms,” an incorrect answer. The third most common response (19%) was “supports the stabilization of the situation in the areas affected by the August 2008 war,” the EUMM’s actual mission.

The share of the public aware of what the EUMM does has declined over time. While in 2009, 39% of the population knew what the EUMM did, 19% did in 2017. This decline may stem from the relatively high salience of the Monitoring Mission in the years immediately following the 2008 August War with Russia, although no data exists which would confirm this.

Besides the decline in knowledge of what the EUMM does, inaccurate information about the organization has become more prevalent. While only 24% of the public gave an inaccurate answer to the question in 2009, 38% did in 2017. Notably, there was a large increase in don’t know responses in 2015 and a sizable decline in 2017. Rather than an increase in correct responses in 2017, however, the data suggests that a lack of knowledge was replaced by incorrect information.

The lack of knowledge about the EUMM is most pronounced in ethnic minority settlements, with only 2% of individuals in minority communities correctly responding to the question. The lack of knowledge in minority settlements should come as no surprise given that surveys in these communities regularly have high rates of don’t know responses.

In contrast, those living in rural settlements with a predominantly ethnic Georgian population provide the correct response most often. The fact that the rural population is more informed than urban populations may stem from the EUMM’s rural presence. While the organization has offices in four urban settlements – Tbilisi, Mtskheta, Zugdidi, and Gori – they regularly patrol the rural areas surrounding the administrative boundary lines with Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Although the public is increasingly unaware of what the EUMM does, about 2/3 of people who provided incorrect answers to the question about the EUMM’s mission would like to have more information about the EU. About a quarter even want information specifically about the EU’s role in resolving Georgia’s territorial conflicts.

The lack of knowledge of what the European Union Monitoring Mission does in Georgia may represent a missed opportunity for the EU. While no data is available about the attitudes of people who have had contact with the EUMM, previous research in Georgia has suggested that individuals contacted by NGOs report greater trust in them. The EUMM, given its public service mission, may receive a comparable boost from contact with the public. Hence, the EU should consider increasing its outreach and communications related to the EUMM.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Survey incentives: When offering nothing is better than offering something

Why do people take the time to respond to surveys in Georgia? A telephone survey experiment CRRC-Georgia carried out in May 2017 suggests that small financial incentives may actually discourage people from participating in surveys. This finding suggests people may respond to surveys for intrinsic (e.g. because they are curious or want to help) rather than extrinsic reasons (e.g. doing something for the money).

During the experiment, 2320 respondents were asked whether they would be willing to participate in future phone surveys. Half were offered a GEL 2 transfer (about US$0.82 at the time of the survey) to their telephone in exchange for doing so. The other half was not offered any incentive. Respondents were randomly assigned whether they were offered an incentive or not.

The difference in responses isn’t impressive, but is statistically significant. Approximately 4% fewer people said they would participate in future surveys when offered the incentive. The chart below displays the effects of different variables on willingness to participate in future surveys in terms of odds ratios. The first model looks at the effect of being offered GEL 2 alone, while the second model controls for age, sex, and settlement type. The odds of someone responding positively when offered the incentive where approximately 0.8 to 1 in both regressions, meaning that the offer made it less likely that individuals would be willing to participate in a future survey. The second model also shows that except for those in the 36-55 age group, demographic characteristics have no effect on people’s likelihood of agreeing to participate in future surveys.

Note: For the regression models presented above, “No” was coded as the base category, “Don’t know” as the second category, and “Yes” as the third category. The logic behind coding “Don’t know” as a middle category is that the person is not refusing to participate in future surveys, but rather is saying they might or might not. 

The results of this experiment show that people in Georgia are slightly less likely to want to participate in future surveys if you offer them a small amount of money compared with offering nothing. This finding may at first seem strange. However, a potential explanation is that GEL 2 may have seemed like a paltry sum, and people may have been offended. In turn, rather than engaging people’s intrinsic motivations like a sense of duty to help others or simple curiosity, the offer of GEL 2 could have activated people’s extrinsic motivations. In turn, the extrinsic incentive wasn’t large enough to counter the loss in the intrinsic value of participation, at least on average.

For a look at a comparable effect in a very different context, this study on attitudes towards having nuclear waste facilities found a similar pattern: when offered money, people were less likely to support having such a facility in their community.

Have other thoughts on what might have encouraged those offered GEL 2 to participate in future surveys to decline participation more frequently? Let’s have a conversation on Facebook or Twitter.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Will an Independent Mayoral Candidate Bring Political Change to Georgia?

[Note: This piece was originally published at New Eastern Europe. It was written by David Sichinava. David is a Senior Policy Analyst at CRRC-Georgia and Assistant Professor at Tbilisi State University. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of CRRC-Georgia, the National Democratic Institute, Tbilisi State University, or any other affiliated entity.]

A June 2017 survey CRRC-Georgia carried out for the National Democratic Institute suggests that Aleksandre (Aleko) Elisashvili, an independent candidate and prominent grassroots activist could win the Tbilisi Mayoral elections, if the elections enter  a second round, which the polling also suggests is a possibility. While only election day will tell the ultimate result, if Elisashvili does win, it could be the start of a shake up of Georgian political life.

Local elections are set for October including the election of mayors in several self-governing cities. In Georgian local elections, the Tbilisi Mayoral race is considered the main race, given that the city contains roughly one third of the country’s population. For the ruling Georgian Dream party, former Energy Minister and Vice Premier Kakha Kaladze is running for the post. The United National Movement, which following defections consists of loyalists to Mikheil Saakashvili, has nominated Zaal Udumashvili, a former anchor on Rustavi 2, the country’s largest TV station. European Georgia, a party consisting of defectors from the United National Movement has nominated Elene Khostaria, a former official in the UNM government and currently an MP, for the mayoral race. The race also features Irma Inashvili, the leader of right-wing Alliance of Patriots, and Giorgi Gugava, endorsed by the Labour Party of Georgia.

Besides the party-affiliated candidates, Aleko Elisashvili, an independent who rose to prominence through his engagement with a variety of grassroots movements aimed at preserving Tbilisi’s urban heritage and currently serving on the Tbilisi city council, has thrown his hat into the race.

June 2017 polling CRRC carried out for NDI places Kaladze in the lead with 37% of the vote among likely voters. Elisashvili came in second with 22%, followed by Udumashvili (16%) and Khoshtaria (5%). According to the survey, 16% of likely voters in Tbilisi are undecided or refused to answer who they would vote for.

If undecided voters are distributed equally between parties, a simple but often accurate way of forecasting election outcomes in the absence of a large number of surveys, it suggests that Kaladze would garner about 42% of the vote in the first round of elections. If Kaladze receives less than 50% of the vote, the electoral threshold to win outright in the first round of Georgia’s mayoral elections, it would lead to a runoff. Given the relatively small sample of likely voters in Tbilisi in the survey and the fact that elections were still at least two months away, it is still unclear whether there will be a run-off, though it is a possibility.

Even though Elisashvili is polling 15 points behind Kaladze, in a runoff, Elisashvili could win the race. In a TV interview, both Udumashvili and Khoshtaria expressed their willingness to support any pro-Western opposition candidate against Kaladze in a second round. Assuming those parties supporters would turnout for Elisashvili, the polls suggest he would garner about 54% of the vote. Although Udumashvili is neck-and-neck for the second place, in case of runoff, he does not have Elisashvili’s declared support. Again, keeping in mind the relatively small Tbilisi sample and the level of error associated with it, this places Kaladze and Elisashvili in a neck-and-neck race.

That means that the campaign, and the race for undecided voters matters. While Kaladze has vowed to replace Soviet block flats with modern housing and promises to further invigorate Tbilisi’s lively nightlife, Elisashvili’s campaign has focused on urban politics and policy. He has attacked Tbilisi mayor’s office for corruption and is positioning himself as an anti-establishment candidate. Elisashvili’s negative stances towards large real estate developers and Tbilisi’s investor-induced construction frenzy indeed fit the anti-establishment image he’s cultivating.

A closer look at the NDI survey suggests Elisashvili is doing better than Kaladze among those voters who do not identify themselves with any party, almost 40% of the city’s population. Surprisingly for a grassroots activist, Elisashvili’s supporters are more likely to be older and well-off - two demographic groups who generally turn out to vote. They are also more likely to think that there is corruption, nepotism and a lack of professionalism in Tbilisi mayor’s office. Finally, voters who think that environmental pollution is the most important public goods issue in Tbilisi - which has consistently been viewed as the most important public goods issue in the capital - are also leaning towards Elisashvili, as are those who find recent construction in residential neighborhoods unfit to the area.

These political leanings in combination with support for Elisashvili make sense given his background. He was instrumental in founding Tpilisis Hamkari, an activist group concerned with preservation issues. Since its inception in 2005, Hamkari has led protest rallies to save several landmark buildings across Georgia’s capital from demolition. Started by a handful of activists, the movement climaxed in 2011 and 2012 when it drew hundreds to rallies attempting to save Gudiashvili square, a small pocket of urban green area in old Tbilisi. Apart from his work as an activist, Elisashvili also hosted political talk shows on the opposition-associated Kavkasia TV and served as head of the state parole board.

Elisashvili’s activism has contributed to his past political successes. In the 2014 local elections, he ran as an independent, winning a seat on Tbilisi city council in a narrowly fought race with candidates endorsed by the Georgian Dream and the United National Movement in the affluent Saburtalo district. At the city council, he fiercely criticized legislation the Georgian Dream-dominated city government proposed. Importantly, Elisashvili opposed the Panorama Tbilisi construction project which was endorsed by Bidzina Ivanishvili, Georgia’s former prime minister and the wealthiest man in the country.

Whether or not Elisashvili manages to maintain or increase his support, many care about the causes the independent candidate stands for. Georgians are extremely skeptical towards local government and issues like environmental pollution and urban development have become increasingly salient. Political scientists still argue whether such issues matter for party politics in post-communist societies. However, the polling and movements in different contexts increasingly suggest that activists have the potential to challenge and shake up city politics through focusing on these issues. The recent success of an anti-establishment social activist, Ada Colau, in Barcelona’s mayoral race is yet another example.

While, it is too early to say whether Elisashvili will be able to turn his popularity into a successful bid for the mayor’s office, the fact that an independent candidate with a relatively unusual political platform is polling strongly could suggest the winds of change are afloat on the political scene in Georgia. Whether those winds will lead towards a revival of Georgia’s democracy, or whether the 2017 local elections will be another round of hope followed by disappointment at the lack of the opposition’s political acumen like in the 2010 local elections awaits election day.

The data used in this article is available here. The input output model used to distribute voters is available here.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Visa liberalization: How much do people in Georgia know about the conditions of visa-free travel to the EU?

CRRC’s previous blog posts have shown that the population of Georgia had rather moderate expectations of the recent visa liberalization with the Schengen zone countries, especially when it comes to the question of how much ordinary people will benefit from it. Europe Foundation’s latest survey on Knowledge of and Attitudes towards the European Union in Georgia, conducted in May 2017, provides a more nuanced understanding on how people in Georgia feel about this process and to what extent they are familiar with the conditions of visa liberalization.

In May 2017, only about 1% of the population of Georgia reported having not heard of visa liberalization. A majority, 64%, reported being glad to have the possibility to travel to the Schengen zone countries visa free, although only 16% believed they personally would take advantage of the visa-free regime in the next 12 months. About a third of the population said visa liberalization did not matter for them, and a rather small minority (4%) reported not being glad about visa liberalization.

Five major conditions have to be met by Georgian citizens to enjoy visa-free travel: they should be able to provide a return ticket, travel insurance, proof of financial means to cover their trip expenses, the address where they will be staying during the trip (a hotel reservation or the address of people inviting him/her) and hold a biometric passport. The Georgian government has implemented a large-scale information campaign to spread information about the conditions of visa liberalization as widely as possible. In order to learn how effective this campaign was, the survey included an open question, “Which are the documents that a Georgian citizen needs in order to travel to the Schengen zone countries visa-free?”

According to the findings, people best remembered the requirement of having a biometric passport – 78% named this condition of visa-free travel. Much smaller shares remembered the other conditions: 45% named financial means, 40% a return ticket, 34% the address where a traveler will be staying during the trip, and only 24% named travel insurance. Understandably, those planning to travel to the Schengen zone in the next 12 months demonstrated a better knowledge of the conditions of visa-free travel. However, the differences were not impressive, especially taking into consideration the small size of this group and thus a relatively larger margin of error.

Overall, only 12% of the population named all these conditions during the survey. Rather surprisingly, the rural population and those living in urban settlements outside the capital “scored” better in this exercise compared to the population of the capital and ethnic minority settlements. On the other hand, 18% failed to name any of the five conditions of visa-free travel. The population of ethnic minority settlements demonstrated the poorest knowledge.

Importantly, as of May 2017, a quarter of the population of Georgia mistakenly believed that as a result of the visa-free regime, Georgian citizens obtained permission to work in the EU. The share increases to 34% among those who say they will travel to a Schengen zone country in the next 12 months. Thus, a preliminary look at the findings about knowledge of the conditions of visa liberalization for Georgian citizens suggests that the information campaign needs to expand, and become more intense and targeted to potential travelers.

The datasets and findings of all waves of Europe Foundation’s survey on Knowledge of and Attitudes towards the European Union in Georgia are available on CRRC’s online data analysis platform. A report focused on the 2017 data is available here.

Monday, October 09, 2017

Prioritizing the personal: People talk more about personal issues than political events

There is nothing new in the idea that, in general, people would primarily be interested in their own lives, rather than in social or political events. In other words, social and political events will, most probably, be overshadowed by events in one’s personal life. CRRC’s 2015 Caucasus Barometer (CB) survey data provides more detailed insights on this. In this blog post, we compare answers to two CB questions: “When you get together with your close relatives and friends, how often do you discuss each other’s private problems?” and “When you get together with your friends and close relatives, how often do you discuss politics / current affairs?” in Armenia and Georgia.

The population of both countries report discussing private problems with much higher frequency than politics and/or current affairs. Interestingly, while the populations of the two countries report rather similar low frequencies of discussing politics and/or current affrairs, the population of Georgia reports discussing private problems frequently almost twice as often as the population of Armenia.

Note: Originally, 10-point scales were used for these questions, with code ‘1’ corresponding to the answer “Never” and code ‘10’ corresponding to the answer “Always”. For the charts in this blog post, the original scales were recoded into 3-point scales, with codes 1, 2 and 3 combined into the category “Rarely”, codes 4 through 7 combined into the category “With average frequency”, and codes 8, 9 and 10 combined into the category “Frequently”. Answer options “Don’t know” and “Refuse to answer” (less than 1% of the cases) were excluded from the analysis. 

When looking only at the most radical answers on the original 10-point scales (“Never” and “Always”, i.e. codes 1 and 10), in both Armenia and Georgia the share of those who report always discussing politics and/or current affairs is much less than the share of those who report never discussing these issues. In Armenia, 8% report always discussing politics and/or current affairs when they get together with close relatives and friends, as opposed to 29% who report never doing so. The respective shares are 11% and 25% in Georgia.

When it comes to the shares of the population recording the most radical answers about the frequency of discussing private problems, the pictures in the two countries are quite different. While practically equal shares report discussing private problems with close relatives and friends in Armenia either always (14%) or never (16%), in Georgia, four times as many report always discussing private problems when they get together with close relatives and friends (29%), compared to 7% who report never doing so.

Even when researchers rely on self-reported information only, as is the case with these CB questions, a high frequency of discussing certain issues reflects people’s interest in them. In Armenia and especially in Georgia, few people spend time talking politics. Not surprisingly, these are mostly older people. While there are no large male-female differences, the reported frequency of discussing politics with close relatives and friends differs for the population of different settlement types. Most surprisingly, the findings in this respect are rather different for the capital cities of Armenia and Georgia.

Thus, although the general patterns of frequency of discussing different issues with close relatives and friends are similar in Armenia and Georgia, there are certain important differences that would merit further research. Specifically, one important question to answer is, are Armenians – especially those living in Yerevan – much more reserved while discussing politics?

CRRC’s Caucasus Barometer and other survey data is available at our Online Data Analysis portal.