Experts Predict Easy Victory for Ruling Party in Local Elections

GIP Expert Polls / Issue #5

The Georgian Institute of Politics (GIP) continues to survey engaged Georgian and international experts on issues of great importance. This October, GIP asked 30 experts and political observers about the imminent local self-government elections. The majority of surveyed pundits predict Georgian Dream winning by a big margin.

In aggregate, the surveyed experts foresee that Georgian Dream will receive 48% of nationwide votes; the United National Movement will take second place with 17% of the votes; the electoral bloc Bakradze, Ugulava-European Georgia will get 9%, David Tarkhan-Mouravi, Irma Inashvili – Alliance of Patriots of Georgia – 7%; and the Labor Party of Georgia is projected to gain 4%.

Table 1. In your opinion, what percentage of votes will the below-listed parties receive in the local self-government elections?

Notably, the opinions of Georgian and international experts appear to coincide. The prospects of the opposition parties are evaluated more-or-less identically by both groups of experts. The biggest variance is in evaluations of the ruling party’s estimated performance. Whereas Georgian experts predict Georgian Dream to win only 41.4 percent of the vote nationwide, foreign experts predict the party to win 54.5 percent.

In relation to the Tbilisi mayoral elections, Georgian and international expert opinions look even more alike. Ninety-seven percent of respondents deem that Kakha Kaladze will become the new mayor of the capital. Out of 30 surveyed experts, only one views an opposition candidate (Aleko Elisashvili) as the likely winner of the race.

Additionally, expert opinions converge on the issue of a run-off in the Tbilisi mayoral race. The majority of experts (72 percent) predict a second round of voting will be necessary to decide who will become the capital’s next mayor. The remaining 28 percent of respondents think the governing party candidate (Kakha Kaladze) will win the first round.

Aggregating responses about voter turnout in the local self-government elections, the experts presume it will be low again, 42.7 percent of the total voting-eligible population.  

GIP also asked respondents to assess the opposition parties’ political programs and their correspondence with Tbilisi’s transportation, infrastructural and ecological problems. Expert opinions diverge on this issue: the majority of positive assessments went to Aleko Elisashvili (12 votes) and lagging slightly behind is Elene Khoshtaria (9 votes). Some of the experts also positively evaluated the election programs of Giorgi Vashadze (6 votes) and Zaal Ududmashvili (2 votes).

Table 2. Against the background of existing problems in transportation, infrastructure and ecology in Tbilisi, which mayoral candidate from the opposition offers real solutions to the problems?

Candidate Number of positive votes
Aleksandre Elisashvili 12
Elene Khoshtaria 9
Giorgi Vashadze 6
Zaal Udumashvili 2
None of them 6

In addition, we asked the experts to express their opinions about the strategies used and mistakes made by opposition candidates in the pre-election period. The majority of surveyed experts believe the problems facing opposition forces are: “dissipation”, “inability to consolidate” and “non-unity around a common candidate.” Furthermore, the respondents negatively evaluate the opposition parties’ reliance on using negative PR campaigns against each other rather than focusing on their own election programs. In the case of some political parties, the experts mentioned negative image stemming from party history.

The surveyed pundits also assessed the program of the ruling party’s mayoral candidate. In this case, the respondents’ positions and thoughts were divergent. While some experts (21 percent) think that Kaladze’s election program “weakly responds” or “does not/cannot respond” to the challenges Tbilisi is currently facing, others (36 percent) say it “partially responds.” The answers “responds well” or “very well” were chosen by 26 percent of all surveyed experts.

Table 3. In your opinion, how much does the election program of the ruling party’s mayoral candidate for Tbilisi respond to the problems existing in the capital?

Assessment Percentage
Weakly responds/Does not/cannot respond 21
Partially responds 36
Responds well or very well 26
Other 17

 

 This is the “corridor of expectations” for expert responses on the vote share for each of the main parties:

In conclusion, it can be said that despite the pre-election activities and efforts made by opposition forces, surveyed pundits expect the ruling Georgian Dream party to be victorious on all fronts in the local elections – in Tbilisi and in other regions. Both Georgian and international experts agree on the following issues. In order to achieve success, the opposition parties in Georgia need to strengthen their focus on themselves. Also important, they need much more coordination with each other and need to unite around common ideas and candidates. It is worth underlining that while the respondents more positively evaluate the other opposition parties’ election programs, they project the United National Movement to get the second-highest number of votes nationwide in the elections. This once again highlights the observation that in Georgia, party programs and ideology are still not considered central to voting behavior.

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