Expectations and hopes of Myanmar voters captured in survey

A survey carried out between 14th and 31st October 2015 captured the people of Myanmar’s expectations and hope on the 2015 elected government. 

Key Issues

The top issues that the Myanmar voters want the 2015 elected government to address are economic development (50 percent), peace (18 percent) and improvement in education (12 percent). 

In assessing the respondents’ optimism of the capability of the 2015 elected government in addressing these issues, more than two-thirds (71 percent) of the respondents said that the government should be able to address them.

An equally important hope expressed by the respondents is the need for decentralization of power. A total of 20 percent of the respondents said that more power should be given to the states while 39 percent said power should be equally shared between states and national government. Only 30 percent respondents expressed their support for centralization of power.  

Peaceful Transition

Concerns over a peaceful transition of power remain real among many voters. Although almost half (43 percent) of the respondents think that Myanmar can have a peaceful transition, a sizeable number (31 percent) of them still expressed their concerns.

Aspiration for Democracy

The people of Myanmar aspire for democracy. This is one of the significant findings of the 2015 survey. It is found that 60 percent of the respondents prefer civilian government while only 8 percent are inclined to military government. This trend can be observed across all demographic variables. 

The support for democracy is more prominent when respondents were asked if they agreed to the statement ‘democracy a better form of government compared to others’. An overwhelming 79 percent of the respondents said that they prefer democracy. This figure could be higher since 13 percent gave no response. There is a significant difference between region and ethnic states where 81 percent of the respondents expressed their support for democracy while the number is slightly lower in the ethnic states at 73 percent.

Voters’ aspiration for democracy is so strong that they do not believe in the propaganda by an influential Buddhist group that said by voting the leading democratic party, NLD, would result in a favourable condition for the Muslim minorities. More than two-thirds (68 percent) of the respondents disagreed with this statement while only 19 percent believed in it. This trend can be observed across all demographic variables.

The controversial constitutional provision that bars an individual who is married to a foreigner to run for President received mixed responses among the respondents. Almost half (49 percent) of the respondents do not support this constitutional provision while 39 percent said that they support it.

Support for Human Rights

In line with the strong support of the respondents towards democracy, a huge majority also supports human rights issues. Almost all respondents (94 percent) said that all citizens should be allowed to practice their religious beliefs. This perception is true across all demographic variables.

However, when the respondents were asked whether the rights of religious minorities should be respected and protected, the figure declined quite significantly (66 percent) albeit the fact that two-third of the respondents believed in the protection of religious minority’s rights.

In fact, 78 percent of the respondents believe that ethnic minorities should be given self-determination. The support for self-determination is understandably stronger in the ethnic states where 89 percent respondents expressed their support for it as compared to 74 percent in the region. 

The survey was commissioned by a consortium led by Mizzima Media Group while Merdeka Center for Opinion Research (Malaysia) acted as the technical advisor. 1,200 adult Myanmar citizens were sampled as respondents via face-to-face interviews. Respondents were selected on multi-stage random sampling. The interviews were administrated in Burmese while interpreters assisted in ethnic minority areas. The survey covered the whole of Myanmar except for Chin state flooding prevented interviews from taking place. The survey is weighted to reflect the national population. 

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