Georgians prefer Parliament in Tbilisi, public poll reveals

The courtyard of the historical Parliament building in Tbilisi. Photo by N. Alavidze, 23 Apr 2014 - 19:08, Tbilisi,Georgia

More than half of Georgia’s population believes the Georgian Parliament should be located in Tbilisi.

A recent poll by Transparency International (TI) Georgia revealed 66 percent wanted Parliament to be in the capital city while 20 percent thought it should remain in Kutaisi.

Earlier today the non-governmental organisation published the results of a public opinion poll regarding the country’s Parliament and individual Parliament members (MPs).

The TI Georgia commissioned survey was conducted by the Caucasus Research Resource Centers (CRRC) from October 3-26, 2013.

One interesting outcome of the poll was society’s lack of knowledge about how many Georgian MPs there were. The poll revealed only 28 percent of respondents could name the exact number of Georgian MPs.

Just under half of those surveyed (46 percent) believed 150 MPs was too many for a country the size of Georgia, while 49 percent believed 150 MPs was enough.

Among the individual Members of Parliament, the Chair of the Parliament (Parliament Speaker) was the most widely recognized - Davit Usupashvili was named by 83 percent of respondents.

The remaining MPs were less widely known. Only 41 percent of those surveyed knew who represented their constituency in the legislative body.

Those surveyed were asked to name the most active MP. Fourteen percent said no MPs were active enough, while 53 percent could not or did not name an MP in this answer.

When asked who was the most trusted politician, the top two places went to current Parliament Chairman Usupashvili (6 percent) followed by former Parliament Chairman Davit Bakradze (4 percent). Bakradze was the only representative from the former governing party that made it to the list.

The location of Georgia’s Parliament developed into a controversial issue when the Saakashvili-led government made changes to the Georgian Constitution and moved Parliament from its historical building in Tbilisi to a new building in Kutaisi – Georgia’s second largest city in Western Georgia – in May 2012.

This was done in an effort to decentralise power and shift some political control closer to Abkhazia, one of Georgia’s two breakaway regions. The move was criticized as marginalizing the legislature.

The former government planned to sell the old building in Tbilisi but an investor was not found. Many of the things inside the building were lost or ruined in 2012.

The famous Vorontsov candelabra was stolen and its whereabouts are still unknown.

(See what is going on inside the old Tbilisi Parliament building "In Pictures”).