The FINANCIAL -- Winemaking is one of the oldest Georgian traditions that have survived to this day. Archaeologists have proved that the history of Georgian wine production reaches back at into the past least 8000 years. Arguably, this makes Georgia the earliest place on earth where wine was produced. And the tradition is alive – today there are not just big wine firms, but it is common among ordinary Georgians to grow grapes and produce their own, home-made wine.

In my last few columns I discussed Georgian politics and what Georgians think and feel regarding neighbours or other countries’ key politicians. This week, I shift gears to explore where Georgia stands in this region in terms of media habits and in particular, internet and social media usage. Georgia is on the verge of huge changes and will soon join most developed counties and have super high speed internet access. But such an upgrade presents a unique opportunity whose benefits would not be limited to monetary gains. Georgia could complement this intensive service by facilitating increased smart phone ownership.

The FINANCIAL -- In summer, social media were flooded with videos showing your friends (and celebrities of all levels of prominence) pouring buckets of icy water over their heads. While some people enjoyed watching this (and even participated in the Ice Bucket Challenge), many were unnerved by this charity campaign which was hardly distinguishable from an ordinary spam attack, were it not for the fact that now your friends and acquaintances were spamming you. A third group however, showed the most interesting reaction: they became moral about it.

Georgia has experienced very little real competition during its parliamentary elections over the past 25 years. Violent coups, peaceful revolutions, elections characterized by weak candidates running against entrenched leaders and pseudo opposition parties, and poor level of civic participation have certainly not helped. But the potential for a real multiparty system exists, as long as expectations are not excessive. 

The FINANCIAL -- About 9 months ago, we were already discussing the oddities of egg prices in Georgia (“The Georgian Egg of Discord”, by Giorgi Kelbakiani and Eric Livny, to be found on the ISET Economist Blog). At that time, a huge volatility in the egg prices could be explained by interesting political dynamics. Under the UNM government, local producers of eggs were largely protected from external competition through non-tariff import barriers, called by the ministry of agriculture a “complete violation of law and international agreements”. However, through these measures, a relative stability of egg supply (and thus prices) in the Georgian market was achieved, though at a relatively high price level (see the chart). 

Job approval ratings arrived in Georgia 60 years after George Gallup originally introduced this type of survey in the mid 1930s. They were conducted for the first time in Georgia following the 1991 presidential elections, itself a first for the country as it emerged from the dying USSR. Georgians have since elected a three more presidents, and without interruption GORBI has measured their public approval ratings. Until recently, these ratings served as a good yard stick of public trust in the existing system and thus a strong predictor of possible social and political unrest in the country. But today, these ratings are more than just about job approval and will reflect how the government tackles none political issues.

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