Nepotism, Abuse of Power, and Bribery: Public Opinion Survey Outcomes
In the aftermath of the 2012 parliamentary elections, nepotism became an exceedingly discussed issue among the general public, following significant changes taking place in the public sector that included among other things mass discharges or voluntary resignations of local government employees as a result of the public service reorganization, competitions, and official evaluations of employees. The growing concern within one part of the Georgian society about the alleged facts of nepotism was further fueled by certain representatives of the ruling establishment who in their statements directly or indirectly justified the noted practice of public sector recruitment, or displayed a lack of political will to fight nepotism( see related statements made by Bidzina Ivanishvili, the former Prime Minister, David Saganelidze, the Parliamentary majority leader, Gogi Topadze, leader of the ruling coalition member party of Entrepreneurs, and others).
Due to the relevance of the issue, TI Georgia conducted a public opinion survey in 2015 to find out the sentiments of the Georgian citizens regarding nepotism and other forms of corruption in the public service.
The survey results indicate that only 5% of the respondents completely (1%) or partly (4%) approve of officials securing employment for their relatives, friends or party members in the public sector without holding an open competition, while 19% of the respondents regard similar employment in the private sector completely (4%) or partly (15%) justified. At the same time, 68% of the respondents think it is partly (20%) or completely (48%) unjustified for officials to employ relatives, friends or party members in the public sector, and 34% of respondents (17% and 27% respectively) think this is unjustified in the private sector. The number of the respondents who regard the relevant decisions by the officials as partly justified and partly unjustified equals 17% for the public sector and 25% for the private sector.
To determine how widespread nepotism is in Georgia, the respondents of the survey were asked a question if they had heard of the instances (besides the information disseminated through media sources) of competitions to fill civil service vacancies over the past two years being unfair and advantage being granted by the management to friends, relatives or party members. 15% of the respondents had often heard and 29% had seldom heard of such cases. 39% of the respondents had no sources of information on unfair competitions in the public service other than the media.
In March 2015, in response to concerns persisting in a certain part of the Georgian society, TI Georgia came out with an initiative to criminalize nepotism. According to the 2015 survey, 65% of the respondents believe that employing friends, relatives or party members in the public service bypassing the competition requirement should be punishable, while 20% do not share this opinion.
It is also worthy of note that in 2015, as compared to 2013, the number of people who believe that the practice of senior officials using their official positions for personal purposes is common or very common has doubled - in 2015 this figure amounted to 25% (very common - 4%, common - 21%), whereas in the 2013 survey findings the analogous figure was only 12% (very common - 3%, common - 9%).
Correspondingly, the 2015 survey outcomes show a 16% decrease in comparison with 2013 (from 33% to 17%) in the number of citizens who think that the instances of senior officials using their official positions for personal purposes are “rather uncommon than common” (11% in 2015 vs. 17% in 2013.) or are “not common at all” (6% in 2015 and 16% in 2013). More citizens think that the instances of the officials using their positions for personal interests are "partly common and partly uncommon”. The number of respondents who agreed with this statement in 2015 was 31% vis-a-vis 21% in 2013.
As for the positive changes, the important findings of the 2015 survey relate to the public service remaining largely free from bribery, and even showing improvement in this respect compared to 2013. 99% of the respondents in 2015 provided negative answers to the question whether they or their family members had been solicited a bribe for public services over the past 12 months. In 2013, the negative responses to the same question made up 95%.
The above public opinion survey was conducted by CRRC (the Caucasus Research Resource Center) through the request of Transparency International Georgia in the period from April 8 to May 6, 2015. The margin of error in the survey results is 3.7%.