Myanmar voters have positive outlook for the country - survey finds

A survey carried out between 14 and 31 October 2015, found that the majority of voters have a positive outlook for the country, but this optimism had declined quite significantly from more than a year ago. 

In terms of the general outlook for the country, a strong majority (62 percent) of the respondents believes that the country is going in the right direction. The positive outlook can be observed across all demographic variables. 

There are multiple factors behind the positive outlook. Among the main factors are economic and infrastructure development (42 percent), greater democratic space (16 percent), improvement in education (9 percent), good governance (8 percent), reforms (7 percent) and more job opportunities (4 percent). 

Despite the strong positive outlook, the figure is relatively weaker compared to the previous survey in February 2014. The February 2014 survey indicated that 88 percent voters think that the country was going in the right direction, a drop of 26 percentage points. 

Indicative of the cautiousness of some respondents with the overall outlook of the country, 44 percent of respondents said that their household income remained the same over the last two years while 21 percent said they were worse off. Only 34 percent of respondents said that their household income was better off.

Low Level of Political Awareness

Another interesting finding of the survey is the lack of political awareness among an overwhelming majority of the voters. Only 29 percent of voters said that they are familiar with the candidates that are going to contest in their area while 43 percent said they are familiar with the political parties. These figures suggest that voters have a greater tendency to know the political parties that are going to contest in their area as compared to the candidates. A record 6,074 candidates will contest the 2015 general elections and this huge number could pose a great challenge to voters getting to know their respective candidates. Furthermore, the survey was carried out just a few weeks after the UEC had released the official candidate list, hence majority voters might not be aware of the candidates yet.

In respect to the voters’ familiarity with political parties, the emergence of many new parties could be the reason why majority voters do not know the political parties that are going to contest in their area. The 43 percent of voters who said that they are familiar with the political parties are referring to well-established parties like the USDP and NLD.

The survey was commissioned by a consortium led by Mizzima Media Group while Merdeka Center for Opinion Research (Malaysia) acted as the technical advisor. The survey implementer is Myanmar Survey Research (MSR). 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 where flooding prevented interviews from taking place. The survey is weighted to reflect the national population.

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