Cultural and Political Dimensions of Anti-Liberal Populism and Religious Nationalism in the Regions of Georgia

In recent years, Georgia has clearly seen an increase in anti-liberal populism and religious nationalism, both in the discourse produced by political forces and in the attitudes of individual citizens. Processes triggered by the spread of the Covid-19 virus have once again exposed the vulnerability of the public in this regard, as evidenced by the strengthening of xenophobic attitudes in certain segments of society. This, in turn, has the potential to escalate into a serious confrontation of an ethnoconfessional nature. In this regard, the study of the public attitudes (both quantitative and qualitative) in the regions of Georgia carried out together with our partners is impressive. The research revealed deep cultural differences, both between regions and within regions, among different groups of the population. There are also differences in public attitudes towards foreign policy priorities, which invoke additional dramatism to the socio-political life. Populism, especially of an anti-liberal nature and the ultra-right sentiments built on it, are at the same time a powerful foreign policy tool for Russia. Thus, the study of public opinion is particularly important in this context. In the report, we’ll analyze the views of the population on anti-liberal populism and ultra-right, and the attitudes prevalent in the regions of Georgia. From a regional perspective, we’ll also discuss endogenous (identity, including ethnicity, orthodoxy, family purity) and exogenous (risks from different states, immigration issues) aspects of the perceived threats. In addition, based on our surveys and analysis we’ll overview the acceptance of different minorities, as well as the extent to which existing attitudes create the possibility of confrontation or agitation of varying degrees. At the same time, we’ll discuss how strong nativist attitudes are, the degree of prevalence conservative and liberal sentiments among regional micro-societies in terms of age, gender and religion.
Populism, Anti-Liberalism, Religious Nationalism, Far-Right, Ethnic and Religious Minorities