The Daily Star : Dhaka Friday, December 25, 2008

Survey Area Coverage

Confidence In Institutions
The survey shows people are highly satisfied with the overall poll preparation. They gave highest scores to army and the Election Commission’s (EC) preparation -- both pulling 88 percent votes.

According to the survey, 11 percent are somewhat satisfied with army and 9 percent with the EC. Next scored the administration’s preparedness with 85 percent saying they are satisfied and another 13 percent somewhat satisfied.

77 percent are satisfied with the role of the caretaker government and another 15 percent somewhat satisfied. Police scored quite low in the confidence rating with only 63 percent expressing their satisfaction.

This time around, people are absolutely enthusiastic about an election held in a different environment when they will not be subjected to coercion. A very high proportion of 98 percent find a better election atmosphere this time for which 95 percent said they feel confident of casting vote without coercion.

Survey Methodology

The objective of The Daily Star-Nielsen Election Opinion Poll-2, 2008 was carried out to assess the voters' views, concerns and priorities in the coming election and related issues. The study explored the general perception on political situation according to gender, age group, urban-rural and different constitutional setting, socio-economic and geographic divisions.
To ensure that the sample properly represents all possible categories, respondents were selected from the following groups:

Urban and rural areas
Male and female population
Age 18 years and above

Study Design: The sample for the poll covered the entire population residing in private dwellings units in the country. Administratively, Bangladesh is divided into six divisions. In turn, each division is divided into districts, and each district into upazila. Each urban area in the municipality is divided into wards, and into mahallas within the ward. Each rural area in the upazila is divided into union parishad (UP) and into mouzas within UPs. Therefore, Primary Sampling Units (PSUs) were mouza in the rural areas and mohallah in the urban areas. From each PSU, required number of households and respondents were selected randomly. The list of mouzas and mohallas were procured from Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics. Therefore, to capture overall picture of Bangladesh, the poll was carried out in 44 districts, covering all the 6 administrative divisions across Bangladesh.

A target number of completed interviews with eligible adult population were set at 5,040 based on standard statistical formula, both from rural and urban areas. The urban-rural distribution of sample reflects the national pattern of population distribution. The survey was quantitative in nature, interviewed at household level and the survey period was December 14 - 20, 2008.

In this quantitative approach, face-to-face interviews were conducted using semi-structured questionnaires.

The interviews were done on 168 spots or PSUs covering 44 districts in 90 electoral constituencies. Thirty individuals were interviewed at each spot. The PSUs were chosen using probability random sampling. The 30 eligible respondents were chosen randomly in selected areas with equal ratio of males and females.

The opinion survey strictly adhered to the internationally laid down methodology and ethical standards as specified in ESOMAR (European Society of Opinion and Marketing Research) and standards of Nielsen Worldwide.

  • Average age of respondents: 36 years, ranging from 18 to 86 years
  • Male-Female ratio: 50:50
  • Literacy range: 68 percent literate, 32 percent not literate,
    But many can sign names
  • Rural-urban ratio: 70:30
  • Divisions covered: All 6
  • Districts covered: 44
  • Constituencies covered: 90
  • Study period: December 14 - 20, 2008

What They Look For In A PM
The respondents were asked to quote what traits they think are important for a prime minister. They picked honesty (89 percent) as the prime quality of a premier followed by educational qualification (79 percent). Of the respondents, 54 percent said a good prime minister should be a good administrator, 24 percent mentioned that a prime minister should be a visionary to plan for future and 11 percent said they should have respect for the opposition.

Nominations: How Al-bnp Fares
The survey wanted to find out the people’s perception about the quality of nomination as a comparison between AL and BNP. The result was startling as a large portion of the respondents felt the parties did not nominate competent candidates. To a question which party nominated more competent candidates, 54 percent of the respondents said they think AL has nominated more competent candidates than BNP while 26 percent think BNP has nominated more competent persons than its archrival.

Manifestoes: What Do They Mean To Them?
Asked which party’s manifesto has been more meaningful for respondents, 53 percent voted for AL while 25 percent for BNP. JP, Jamaat and other parties combined could get only 2 percent votes each.

A highest of 47 percent respondents said they were happy that the parties promised to control prices in their manifestoes. Five percent voted for crime control, corruption and road development elements each. The survey shows 4 percent liked education promises and 3 percent electricity generation. Another 14 percent mentioned other sectors.

Public Perception About Implementation
Beyond mere promises, the survey looked at the voters’ perception of implementation capacity of parties. Again, AL scored the highest with 50 percent saying it will be able to deliver its promises better. As many as 25 percent respondents voted for BNP, and a small portion of 2 percent picked JP, Jamaat and other parties each. A large 15 percent said they do not know which party will deliver better.

The respondents were then given a set of choices about why they think their party of confidence will deliver better. For both AL and BNP, 42 percent said it is because they find similarity in the party’s promises. Only 6 percent said their better delivery will come from good leaders.

Honesty Comes First
Voters want honest and capable candidates this time to be elected and this was reflected in the survey. Of them, 61 percent said honesty of candidates would influence their voting decision most and 31 percent said they would look into the candidates’ educational qualification. The survey shows 18 percent of the respondents said they would look for dedicated party candidates to vote.

Conscious Voters
The political parties are going to face more conscious voters this time and they hold strong opinions about the way the main two parties behave. A whopping 87 percent said it is not acceptable to them that the AL and BNP had demanded for allowing bill and loan defaulters in elections. In line with the survey, 74 percent respondents do not approve of the parties nominating relatives of convicted politicians. According to 41 percent respondents, voters should reject such candidates.

Comparing Two Leaders' Speeches
The survey wanted to evaluate if voters see any qualitative change in the statements Sheikh Hasina and Khaleda Zia are making. According to 28 percent respondents, Hasina’s speeches have not changed in essence from before and 35 percent said Khaleda’s has not changed. However, 48 percent see Hasina’s statements have improved from before and 38 percent find Khaleda’s improvement in statements. But 5 percent said Khaleda’s speeches are frustrating and 3 percent said Hasina’s.

For Change
As many as 73 percent of respondents feel that politics would change for the better after the election but 6 percent believe there will be no change in political culture and 3 percent think it will turn worse.

Promises And Media Expectations
Interestingly, a large number of 67 percent believe in the promises parties are making. According to the survey, 29 percent think the pledges are unbelievable. To the respondents, media seem to be an effective channel to protest if promises are broken. The media should report such broken pledges and debates be held on TV and radio, as 74 percent of them feel. As many as 21 percent respondents favour debate in parliament and 11 percent say voters should not elect the party, which would break promises in the next election.

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