Dhaka, Bangladesh – An IRI survey conducted in August 2014 finds that political violence surrounding the January 2014 elections has driven respondents to sharp division on a number of issues, including the need for new elections. Furthermore, a decrease in the violence related to the January 2014 general elections resulted in a tentative increase in respondents’ economic outlooks.
Apprehension of Violence Divides Bangladeshis on New Elections
Concern over the violence seen prior to the January 2014 general elections led the country to a sharp division in opinion over new elections. When asked when they would like to see the next parliamentary elections, 40 percent of respondents said as soon as possible, while 45 percent said that they would like to see the parliament complete its full term. Respondents were also split on the validity of the January 2014 elections. When the arguments for and against new elections were presented, nearly equal numbers supported each side: 48 percent felt that new elections should be held because the January 2014 parliamentary elections were not inclusive, while 43 percent stated there was no need to hold new elections because the elections were legitimate.
The concern over violence was also reflected in the support that 77 percent of respondents gave to a potential ban on any strikes and violent protest in the survey.
Cautious Optimism About Bangladesh’s Future
The end of electoral violence led to a tentative increase in positive responses about the country’s overall direction. While political instability was named the number one issue facing Bangladesh by 39 percent of survey respondents in January 2014, this latest survey showed a crowding of indicators – corruption at 20 percent, infrastructure at 17 percent and political instability and the economy at 13 percent each – as opposed to a dominant concern among Bangladeshi voters. The decline of political instability as a top concern reflects the country’s uneasy peace following the violence of the 2014 elections.
Fifty-six percent of the population indicated their belief that Bangladesh is headed in the right direction, up 21 points since January 2014. This positive outlook can also be seen in the public’s economic assessments as Bangladeshis showed greater optimism about their personal economic future in this latest survey. A 60 percent majority predicted their personal economic situation will improve over the next 12 months, a 25-point increase since January 2014. However, it is important to note these indicators could reverse quickly as a result of the recent return of violence to the country.
These are among the findings of the latest survey in Bangladesh by IRI, based on face-to-face interviews conducted with a randomly selected sample of 2,550 voting aged adults from August 21 – September 7, 2014. Conducted in cooperation with international research firm Global Strategic Partners, the nationally representative sample was drawn from all 64 districts in the seven major divisions of Bangladesh. The margin of error for the aggregate sample does not exceed plus or minus two percent at the midrange with a confidence level of 95 percent.
IRI has conducted surveys in Bangladesh since 2008 to inform elections and civil society stakeholders on key electoral issues.