A majority of Bangladeshis are satisfied with the situation in their lives and are optimistic about the country’s progress, according to a recent opinion poll commissioned by The Independent and carried out by Research Development Centre (RDC) in the first quarter of 2017.
The participants in the poll also expressed greater approval ratings for Bangladesh Awami League (AL) and its President Sheikh Hasina compared to Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and its Chairperson Khaleda Zia.
The survey was carried out in March 2017 via telephone-interview of 1,005 adult people. A total of 1,005 households were sampled from RDC’s telephone bank of approximately 25,000 numbers obtained from previous surveys. The accuracy is plus/minus 3.5 percent. [i.e. there is a 95 percent chance that the true value is in the range plus/minus 3.5 percent of the reported value.]
Greater Satisfaction and Optimism
64 percent of the respondents feel that they have made progress in their lives, compared to 24.5 percent who feel that their lives have not progressed. 11.4 percent respondents feel that their position has remained unchanged.
In responding to the query as to whether their family’s financial position has improved, 54.5 percent believe it has, compared to 25.5 percent who answered in the negative. 19.9 percent respondents feel that their family’s financial position has remained the same as before.
63 percent respondents feel that their family’s physical security has improved, compared to 16.9 percent who do not feel that there has been any improvement in this regard. 20 percent answered that the state of physical security of their families is the same as before.
68.6 percent respondents think the country is moving in the right direction. 13.7 percent of the respondents do not think that the country is not moving in the right direction. 10.3 percent respondents did not know the answer to the question, while 7.4 percent refrained from answering.
Greater Approval for Awami League
When asked about their opinion of AL, 56.9 percent responded that they have a ‘good’ opinion about the party. In contrast, only 18.5 percent expressed a ‘good’ opinion about BNP. 15 percent respondents expressed a ‘good’ opinion about Jatiya Party (JP).
Only 2.6 percent of the respondents expressed a ‘bad’ opinion about AL. In comparison, 44.1 percent of the respondents held a ‘bad’ opinion about BNP, while 25.4 percent of the respondents expressed their negative opinion on JP.
25.6 percent of the respondents expressed an ‘acceptable’ opinion of AL, compared to 44.1 percent for BNP, and 20.7 percent of JP. Some respondents either ‘did not know’ or ‘refused’ to express their opinion about the political parties. For AL that number was 15 percent, 22 percent for BNP, and 38.9 percent for JP.
When asked who they would vote for, if elections were held on that day, 36.1 percent respondents said they would vote for AL. In contrast, only 3.5 percent responded that they would vote for BNP. The numbers for JP and Jamaat E Islami (JeI) are 1.2 percent and 0.4 percent respectively.
These numbers regarding AL and BNP are quite close to the last similar opinion poll carried out by the Washington-based Democracy International in October 2016, in which 38 percent respondents said they would vote for AL while only 5 percent stated that they would vote for BNP.
Regarding the sliding numbers for BNP, when asked for comments, political analysts stated that the reasons may include the record of governance in 2001-06, helping Jamaat-e- Islami attempt to block the war crimes trials, and especially the street violence on civilians centering the 2014 elections and the following year in 2015.
49.7 percent of the respondents remain undecided, while 7.5 percent refused to say who they would vote for. Interestingly, 1 percent respondents said they would not vote at all. It is to be noted that the rise in the number of undecided voters correspond with the decline in the support for BNP. While the stated electoral support for AL has remained more or less same, there has been decline in the support for BNP, as apparent from this and other similar previous polls. This might indicate that people who would have otherwise voted for BNP in the past are now undecided on their choice.
AL More Popular Among Youths Than BNP
Support for AL over BNP is also strong among the youths of Bangladesh. When asked about their opinions about the party, 55.4 percent of the respondents aged 18-29 said they had a ‘good’ opinion of AL, compared to 20.8 percent for BNP. Only 2.5 percent respondents in this age group have a ‘bad’ opinion of AL, compared to 13.8 percent for BNP. Regarding who they would vote, 35.8 percent youths respondents mentioned support for AL, compared to only 3.4 percent for BNP.
Greater Favourability of Sheikh Hasina
The poll shows Sheikh Hasina to be clearly more popular than her rival Khaleda Zia. 72.3 percent respondents have a ‘good’ opinion about Sheikh Hasina running the country. In contrast, only 26.6 percent respondents have a good opinion about Khaleda Zia running the country.
Only 2 percent of the respondents expressed a ‘bad’ opinion about Sheikh Hasina running the country. In comparison, 13.6 percent of the respondents held a ‘bad’ opinion about Khaleda Zia running the country.
Sheikh Hasina is also more popular among youth voters than Khaleda Zia. 71 percent of the respondents aged 18-29 have a ‘good’ opinion about Sheikh Hasina running the country, compared to 23.1 percent for Khaleda Zia. By the same token, only 2.8 percent of the youths have a ‘bad’ opinion of Sheikh Hasina, compared to 10.8 percent for Khaleda Zia.
Communications Tops Concerns
When asked what are the two most important problems for the society, communications (roads, traffic jams, lack of passenger sheds) came first with 48.3 percent of the respondents putting it as to the main problem for the society. High electricity/gas price came second having been mentioned by 41.7 percent of the respondents. These were followed by drug addiction, lack of drinking water, and erosion of moral values, having been identified by 13.2 percent, 12.8 percent and 10.2 percent respectively.