From “peaceful protests” to “manifestation of depravity”: How did the Georgian Dream present the June crisis to the public?
Conclusion: Are people convinced?
Overall, GD officials have demonstrated solid, coordinated action to construct a narrative downgrading the importance of the Gavrilov incident, justifying the use of force during the night of June 20, and demonizing the domestic actors involved in the aftermath protests. On the surface, the coordination of strategic communication looks impressive. But it does not indicate the extent to which the government’s narrative convinced the public. In fact according to data from an NDI opinion poll conducted in July 2019, 58 percent of the surveyed respondents evaluated the government’s response to the June protests as “badly” or “very badly”, while the share of positive evaluations of “well” and “very well” amounted to 22 percent (see figure 1). At the same time the share of respondents who could not answer the question was 19 percent.
What these figures show is that the public is dissatisfied with how the government has managed the June crisis and the numbers should be alarming for the ruling party. This means that Georgian voters will not remain calm and to manage this high amount of dissatisfaction, the GD will need to invite the leaders of the protests to negotiation tables for the very least. Additionally, if GD wants to save the face, they will need a better narrative to ensure that the public anger is properly managed, and situation is not further escalated. In this context it is important to adopt constructive language and, more importantly, take action to deliver tangible results in order to resolve the political crisis triggered by a range of decisions that were not thought trough properly.