Since the mid 30s of 20th century, pollsters from all over the world have been asking people about the most pressing issues that their respective societies are facing. In most instances, economic issues top the list. This is especially true for the countries of the former Soviet Union, where unemployment, inflation, low pay, inadequate social benefits and the like have been enduring issues that governments struggle to address.
However, those who have examined opinion poll data conducted with similar methodology in multiple countries see an interesting picture: while economics dominate the agenda, there are also “unexplored” issues concerning the human security and in particular people’s concerns and worries about possible war and terrorist acts
As in my previous columns, I am again using data from the World Values Survey (WVS), a project that covers dozens of countries across the globe and which I am privileged to be a project director for Georgia since 1995. In 2014, the WVS project asked representative samples of populations in 60 nations to what degree they were worried about war involving their respective countries and terrorism.
Georgia ranked the #1 country whose population worries the most about an outbreak of war in the future. (Chart 1 lists the top 10 countries.) Naturally, there are several reasons why these countries are worried about war and I am not in a position to give a good explanation on a per country basis. Nevertheless, one thing is certain: 6 countries in the list have one thing in common – they are all neighboring Russia (Armenia and Kyrgyzstan has no direct borders with Russia) and all of them were either occupied in the past by Russia or are still under occupation. For example, Japan and Georgia still have territories that are under Russian control.
Chart 1: Top 10 countries that worry most about war (% for very much and a good deal are combined)
The second question that the survey asked was: “To what degree are you worried about a terrorist attack?”. With the exception of Estonia and Uzbekistan, more than half of surveyed respondents in all countries worry about terrorist attacks (and war). Again, Georgia appeared on the top of list. The overwhelming majority (93%) of the public see a terrorism as a key threat – in this regards we are the second country worldwide (both Rwanda and Tunisia had 97%) and the first among ex Soviet republics
Chart 2: Fear of war and terrorist attacks among ex Soviet countries (% for very much and a good deal are combined)
Very rarely can one see that over 90% of public anticipates, worries, likes or dislikes anything. Even in homogenous countries (by ethnic or religious composition such in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan) there is almost no way that 95% or more of the public trusts or likes one football team or one politician or even one God. While war and terrorism are not issues that governments tend to discuss openly, these feelings exist and they are based on the current reality or recent past. Both require enormous financial investments and are the heaviest burden of national budgets. These are even bigger challenges for corrupted countries and even if well-prepared, there no to fully avoid war, nothing to say about terrorist attacks.
GORBI is a regional hub for partner organizations and international clients. GORBI is an exclusive member of Gallup International research network since 2003 and has over two decades of experience in survey research in the former Soviet Union, as well as Mongolia and Iraq.