Baku, September 3, AZERTAC
The Social Research Center regularly examines and studies the changes in state and public life, the trends observed, new approaches and dynamics in society, and prepares open and confidential notes for submission to the public and government agencies.
In a special edition of the “Confidence Index”, the Social Research Center provides a public assessment of the President's activities and conducts scientific analysis of President Ilham Aliyev's activities, the place of his large-scale economic, social and foreign policy course in our life, and the goals set.
The third issue of the “Confidence Index” is dedicated to the activities of the President of Azerbaijan in the second quarter of the year – from April to June.
Public opinion studies show that in the past five months of the fight against the global coronavirus pandemic, political leadership, the ability of the state to mobilize potential resources and capabilities and maintain public trust and confidence have been the key prerequisites of national unity.
The Social Research Center has also prepared an extensive study based on an opinion poll on the subject of “The anti-crisis policy of the state on the fight against the pandemic in public opinion”. The anti-crisis strategy adopted by the Azerbaijani government in the fight against the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the assessment of relevant public policy steps based on public opinion play an important part in planning the government's decisions for the upcoming period.
The analytical report assesses, on the basis of the public opinion poll, people’s attitude to the urgent social support measures taken by the government in order to reduce the negative impact of the pandemic on macroeconomic stability, employment and entrepreneurship in the country.
Opening the briefing to launch both reports, the Chairman of the Social Research Center Zahid Oruj said that confidence and trust in the President are the guarantee of peace, economic, political and moral renewal, the rule of law and the policy of building new governance.
Zahid Oruj further said, “Just as the global coronavirus pandemic is affecting the economy, well-being, domestic and external relations, and all spheres of public life, it puts heads of state and political leaders to a difficult test. The past few months have shown that leaders of the countries reacting to the threat of a pandemic at different times and in different ways differed sharply from each other – both historical political figures of the past and professional managers of the modern era. Of course, as a result of all this, we see a special behavior of societies on different continents, which raises countless questions: “They ask:
- To what extent were the leaders able to ensure national unity during the crisis?
- To what extent have they managed to preserve the unity of the central government, i.e. the state, in the conditions of domestic and international cooperation, taking upon themselves the fate of their nation?
- Were the leaders responsible for the protection of people’s health and safety able not to blame various states, governments and local bodies but, on the contrary, to ensure their cohesion?
- Did they manage to preserve public order and peace at the expense of the economy, social life, jobs and employment, i.e. normalization measures, by choosing the course of a gradual exit from the pandemic?
The head of the Social Research Center noted that the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan was able to take on all threats, solve challenges and problems in non-standard circumstances, take on all threats in order to lead his people out of the great trials in world history, a difficult test which in some cases was described as “war”, demonstrated a stable character in a new capacity, a strong will against the crisis. Therefore his charisma and authority remain strong among the people. This authority is the main guarantor of tranquility and peace, economic, political and spiritual renewal, legality and, most importantly, the policy of building new governance on a scale larger than in 2019. The same applies to Mehriban Aliyeva. As was the case in previous decades, for the past five months Mehriban Aliyeva stood shoulder to shoulder with the President in all spheres of state and national life and was always by the side of the people.
Based on the results of public opinion, we can say with full confidence that Azerbaijan is one of the countries that have successfully overcome the ordeals.
This statement is underpinned by three main factors identified by researchers and experts during the period of a successful fight against the pandemic, equal to almost one year:
1. The factor of a political leader;
2. Potential resources and capabilities of the state;
3. The presence of public confidence and trust.
In the countries possessing these three “success factors” that give impetus to an exit from the pandemic crisis and subsequent development, the political leaders enjoying popular trust provide flexible strategic management and neutralize the blows of the pandemic.
In societies possessing mutual trust and national unity, these qualities create completely new values and become a national force against the background of the coronavirus.
In conclusion, the chairman of the Social Research Center noted that during the pandemic, the countries found themselves face to face with moral and political choices. Choosing between the health of citizens or saving the economy, different states made different choices. The head of the Azerbaijani state said that there is nothing more important than human life. Thus, the advancement by the leadership of Azerbaijan of the health, well-being and safety of citizens as a strategic priority was the most correct decision taken in the current situation.
All the measures taken under the leadership of President Ilham Aliyev – from programs to support the economy to social packages for the adaptation and modernization of the healthcare infrastructure and the construction of new clinics – serve this very purpose – to treat citizens as the highest value.
In his remarks, the Deputy Chairman of the Social Research Center Elshad Mirbashiroglu highlighted various aspects of the “confidence index”, noted that one of the priority areas of the President's activities is army building. “In particular, 70.7 percent of those polled, i.e. the absolute majority, considers the President's activities in the field of army development to be very effective. 24.6 percent of those polled consider the activities of the head of state in this direction to be mostly effective. The percentage of citizens who are opposed to this assessment is 2.5 percent. The effective activity of the President of the country in the field of army building is the key factor that determines the confidence and trust in the President of the country. So 82 percent of those polled expressed their confidence in the President and highly assessed his activities in the field of army building. In fact, 27.6 percent of the 2.6 percent of those polled who expressed a decrease in confidence and trust positively assess the President’s activities in this direction.”
54 percent of those polled consider the President's activities in the field of security and foreign policy to be very effective and 28.9 percent to be mostly effective. The number of those who expressed the opposite position is 6.5 percent of those polled. There is an increase in the percentage of those who found it difficult to answer questions in this direction. Thus, 10.7 percent of those polled found it difficult to answer the question about activities in the field of security and foreign policy.
The head of the department of socioeconomic analysis of the Social Research Center Seymur Aliyev noted in his remarks that the decisions taken within the framework of strategies to combat crises caused by natural disasters (in this case, pandemic) were calculated in two stages. Although the first phase is seen as a short-term period and is based on elements of reactive crisis management in the context of responding to the day-to-day consequences of a crisis, the second phase is that the measures for the medium and long term consist in proactive strategies implemented with the aim of eliminating the causes and are based on the study of the factors causing crises.
To achieve the above goals, the Social Research Center, in order to study public opinion on the anti-crisis measures taken and implemented by the Task Force at different times, conducted the following nationwide surveys and focus group discussions, the results of which were analyzed by the research group.
- The first stage (24-30 April 2020). Study of public attitudes towards policies in the field of taking preventive measures and strengthening social protection in the fight against the pandemic (sociological survey conducted with 1212 interviewees);
- The second stage (8-11 May 2020). Study of public opinion to measure the level of satisfaction of persons using measures of state social support (sociological survey conducted with 1212 interviewees);
- The third stage (22-23 May 2020). Study of the attitudes of persons who lost their jobs during the quarantine period, as a special group, to measures of social support of the state (sociological survey conducted with 124 interviewees out of 365);
- The fourth stage (9-10 June 2020). Study of public attitudes towards tightening of the quarantine regime adopted as part of the fight against the pandemic (sociological survey conducted with 384 interviewees);
- The fifth stage (3-7 July 2020). Study of public attitudes towards measures taken in some cities and districts, and the tightened quarantine regime in the fight against the pandemic (sociological survey conducted with 1212 interviewees).”
According to the head of the department, the survey covered the city of Baku, the Absheron, Ganja-Gazakh, Shaki-Zagatala, Lankaran, Guba-Khachmaz, Karabakh, Aran and Upper Shirvan economic-geographical regions. In general, the opinions of 4144 interviewees were studied in five stages ... The Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic and the occupied regions were not included in the survey.
The analysis mainly focused on the following areas in the order of priority:
- Study of public opinion on the state's preventive measures in the fight against the pandemic;
- Study of the impact of a special quarantine regime on the daily life and incomes of the population;
- Measures of social support in the fight against the pandemic;
- Measures to provide food and services during the period of special quarantine;
- Financial measures implemented in the fight against the pandemic;
- Measures to get out of the special quarantine regime;
- International cooperation in the fight against the pandemic;
- Assessment of the activities of relevant individuals and bodies in the fight against the pandemic.
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