Public attitudes to local self-government institutions
Poll results and TI Georgia’s recommendations
Georgian citizens are less likely to be involved in the process of decision making by local authorities. They are also not informed about local authorities’ activities, according to a recent sociological survey conducted by the Caucasus Research Resource Centres (CRRC) on behalf of TI Georgia. The survey was conducted from 3-26 October 2013 and received responses from 1,918 Georgian citizens.
The research reveals that:
- 19% of those surveyed have a low understanding of how local governments work – both the municipality/town hall and town council.
- Only 2% perceive themselves as very knowledgeable about the specific work of local governments, indicating that local authorities need to devote more time to public relations.
- Only 3% of respondents think that their municipality/city administrator/mayor represents the interests of the local population
- 14% believe that these officials do not represent the interests of the local population.
- Results were similar regarding the city council: only 2% of surveyed people agreed with the statement that the elected representative body represents people’s interests
- 14% of respondents think the opposite of this statement.
These results underline that local self-governments have wrongly defined their priorities. Representatives of the local government bodies lack communication with the electorate, and they are less likely to hold a public discussion before carrying out their activities. They are not focused on understanding the needs of citizens. They are not taking steps to share voters’ ideas or discussing and making solutions to their specific problems which will ensure their involvement in the decision-making process.
This assumption is supported by the fact that in last two months only 4% of respondents attended council meetings. It appears that decision–making remains the exclusive competence of the collegial body of representatives: people who are affected by any legal act or resolution are informed about the reforms only post-factum.
A positive result from the survey is that large number of those interviewed are intending to vote: 55% said they are definitely going to vote. Only 4% said they would refuse to vote.
Regarding selecting between candidates: 34% think the honesty of a candidate is the most important trait, 22% education, almost the same number - 21% their professional experience. Religion is a determining point for only 2% of those surveyed, party affiliation for 7%.
It is interesting that survey showed that more people have a neutral, rather than negative, attitude towards local government. Local governments should perform their duties in a way that palces greater emphasis on social involvement in the decision making process. They should give more information about their on-going and planned activities electronically. To facilitate access to public information, at the entrance of each municipal city council an information board should regularly publish important information.