Thursday, September 19, 2013

More Bangladesh polls results: religion, NGOs, hartals, corruption ...

Last week New Age newspapers published results of a series of opinion polls undertaken by AC Nielsen/Democracy International focusing on the level of political support held by the different political parties, and voters’ views on an election caretaker government, the war crimes trials and the Shahbagh movement. These can all be seen here

However, in the polls undertaken since June 2012 many other questions were asked of voters and below are findings which are likely to be of additional interest – though it should be remembered that that some answers were given over a year ago, and opinions may well have changed.

This is the first time these results - from polls in June 2012, Jan 2013, Mar 2013 and July 2013 - have been published.

All the polls involved face-to-face interviews with between 2,400 to 2,500 randomly selected people throughout Bangladesh. Democracy International says that it is confident that ‘statistically, the views of those surveyed accurately represent the opinions of all Bangladeshi voters with a margin of error of plus or minus 2 per cent.’

Particularly interesting results:
- lack of confidence in NGOs;
- significance of religion;
- Awami League government does well in comparison with last Bangladesh Nationalist Party government in most policy areas;
- 'Corruption' is seen as biggest weakness of both main parties;
- 'history' of party, important to why people vote for AL;
- retirement of AL and BNP's 'founding families' from politics would weaken parties;
- 'hartals' very unpopular;
- control of prices seen as most important priority for new government;
- Overwhelming number of people want dialogue between main political parties.
June 2012 poll 
1. Confidence in institutions: When voters were asked to state whether they had confidence in different institutions, the three in which voters had the least confidence were the ‘police’ (50 percent had no confidence), the ‘political parties’ (43 percent) and NGOs (41 percent). The institution in which voters had the most confidence was ‘the military’ with only 5 percent saying that they had no confidence in it.

2. Religion: The response to two questions indicated the significance of religion in Bangladesh politics. A small majority of people (53 to 47 percent) either disagreed or strongly disagreed with the proposition that ‘religion and politics are two different things’ and 59 percent agreed/strongly agreed that it would be a good thing ‘if all political parties in Bangladesh is based on religion.’

3. BNP/AL policy comparison: Voters were asked to compare the current Awami league government with that of the 2001-6 Bangladesh Nationalist Party government in a number of areas. In ‘education and health care’, 82 percent thought that the current AL government was either successful or very successful, compared to 54 percent who thought the same of the previous BNP government; in ‘reducing poverty’, 36 percent thought the AL had been successful/very successful compared to 32 percent for the BNP period; and both parties get the same ratings, 40 percent, in relation to dealing with law and order. Only in relation to the price of goods does the BNP have a better rating than the AL (41 percent thinking that the BNP had been successful/very successful compared to 30 percent for the AL government). The caretaker government only rated well on the issue of law and order, where 71 percent thought it was successful.

4. Party shortcomings: When voters were asked what was the shortcomings/weakness of the AL and the BNP, the issue that was mentioned the most for both parties was ‘corruption’ - with the same percentage of voters, 35 percent mentioning it as a shortcoming for each party.

5. Why support parties: When asked what were the reasons ‘why some people like or support’ the Al, 46 percent of voters stated it was the party’s ‘leaders’ and 37 percent mentioned it was the party’s ‘history’ - higher levels than the percentage of voters who gave the same reasons about the BNP (31 percent and 15 percent, respectively.)

6. Party/candidate: Just over half of the voters questioned, 52 percent, said that when they vote, they decide solely on the basis of ‘the qualities of an individual candidate’. 18 percent said that they only considered the political party, and 26 percent stating that they consider ‘both’.

7. Founding families: The same percentage of voters, 55 percent and 6 percent respectively thought that both the BNP and AL would be ‘much weakened’ or would ‘disappear’ if ‘their founding families were to retire from politics. Many more people however thought that the Jatiya party would be affected if General Ershad and his family retired from politics with as many as 26 percent of voters thinking that the party would disappear ‘entirely’ (over and above the 52 percent who thought that the party would be weakened by their retirement).

January 2013 poll
8. Hartals: Voters were very hostile to both ‘hartals’ and ‘barricades’ organized by political parties – with over 90 percent viewing them as ‘bad.’ 65 percent even thought ‘criticising opponents in the media’ was ‘bad’. The kinds of political activities that were popular were rallies, public gatherings, TV debate and use of posters.

9. New election Priority: The issue that by far the most number of voters stated should be ‘given priority’ by the next elected government was ‘control of prices’ with 94 percent of voters thinking it a priority. In a question (where voters were allowed to provide more than one answer) 58 percent also thought that ‘improving law and order’, and 40 percent ‘dealing with corruption’ and ‘increasing jobs’, should be priorities.

March 2013
10. Media: Television is by far the most important medium through which people receive their news. When voters were asked ‘which medium do you receive the most reliable news’, 75 percent said ‘television’, with only 6 percent stating ‘newspapers’. 25 percent said ‘words of mouth’ with ero no-one stating the ‘internet’.

11. When asked which TV stations they watched, 37 percent said they watched BTV, 13 percent ATN Bangla, 11 percent Channel One, 7 percent Somoy TV and NTV, and 4 percent said ETV and ATN news.

12. In terms of those people who did read newspapers, 32 percent stated they read Prothom Ali, 27 percent Bangladesh Protidin, 15/16 percent said Amar Desh, Jugantor and Ittefaq, 8-10 percent Jonokhonto, Noyo Niganto, Kaler Khonto and Samakol.

July 2013
13. Dialogue: When voters were asked, ‘Do you believe that the government and opposition parties should get involved in a constructive dialogue soon,’ 93 percent agreed. And when additionally asked whether or not the ‘international community can facilitate dialogue’, 43 percent agreed and 33 percent disagreed.
(This work of DI is part of the Democratic Participation and Reform programme, which is funded by the American and British aid bodies, USAID and UKAID)

1 comment:

  1. (On the FB comments, which I can see but but comment on.)
    The survey says that most people want political parties to be more religious. We can define "more religious" in many ways. But, however we define it this is very worrying for minorities as inevitably the majority religion will define the moral code.
    The fact that people have far more confidence in the army than in NGOs sounds worrying. It could be implied that the Army would be the preferred government. But you will probably get a similar answer in a European country.