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IRI Survey Explores Syrian Opposition Visions for Post-Assad Syria

September 21, 2012

Washington, DC – The Syrian opposition exhibits considerable respect for minority rights, is largely secular-minded and amicable to Western nations, indicate survey results released today by IRI. The release of these questions covering Syrian opposition views on democratic models represents a second and final wave of results from a survey IRI released on August 17, 2012.  Fieldwork was conducted from June 1 - July 2, 2012, and was undertaken in cooperation with international survey research firm Pechter Polls of Princeton, NJ (P3)

Given security considerations, the survey was conducted electronically using a referral, or “snowball” method, rather than through strictly random selection of respondents, as would be done in a public opinion poll.  To achieve broader representation, key individuals (or channels) were used to initiate the referral chain, ultimately reaching a sample of 1,168 opposition members, approximately 315 of whom were inside Syria.  Margin of error is not strictly applicable to this survey because of the non-random selection of respondents.

Key findings:

  • When asked to rate countries based on the desirability of their internal political models, France, the United States and Turkey all scored highest earning averages of 5.45, 5.35 and 5.33 out of seven respectively.  Iraq and Iran achieved the lowest ratings with 1.65 and 1.26 respectively.
  • The survey demonstrated opposition support of measures that would prevent future discrimination against minorities including Kurds (5.04/7) and Alawites (4.69/7). 
  • More generally, when asked if police and government officials should protect all individuals equally regardless of background, respondents very strongly agreed averaging 6.7 out of seven.
  • Regarding religion’s place in the constitution and public life, respondents exhibited the most support a system that respectfully acknowledges religion but gives no priority to any specific religious viewpoint, with this model scoring 5.23 out of seven.  It should be noted that results were not unanimous on this point, with the second most popular model being a constitution based on Islam (4.43/7).
Read further analysis of the survey in a recent opinion piece by David Pollock in The Washington Post, “Among Assad’s opponents, moderation reigns.”