Latest IRI Opinion Polls: An Analysis

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The International Republican Institute (IRI)’s Center for Insights in Survey Research released a new opinion poll on Bangladesh on March 30, 2016. The poll in question covered collecting a snapshot of the Bangladesh population’s opinion on a wide range of issues, including but not limited to politics and development. The following is a brief analysis of the poll.

Present Satisfaction & Future Optimism
73% of the respondents felt that the country is headed in the right direction, up from 64% in November, 2015 and 56% in September 2014. The factors which influenced this opinion includes several factors according to the poll, including improvement in education, development of transportation system, better economy, increased electricity generation, overall development and declining terrorism. As for the current economic situation of the country, 83% people feel that they are very good or somewhat good. 69% respondents replied that their and their family’s personal economic situation has improved in the past year. 72% respondents also said that their and their family’s economic situation is likely to improve further in the coming year.

Educational Improvement Notable
Improvement of education is however the biggest reason for the feeling of optimism, with 71% respondents citing that as the reason for feeling for saying the country is headed in the right direction. An overwhelming majority, 92% of the respondents, feel that the education system in the country has gotten much better or somewhat better in the past year.
Responding to the factors which according to them has contributed to the improvement of education, the following were mentioned: Cheating has declined; Kids attend school regularly; Standards have increased; Government provides education for everyone; Public exam pass rate has increased; Students receive government stipends; Literacy has increased; Number of schools has increased; and girls are getting free education in public schools.

Security and Stability
Overall, 83% of the respondents said security conditions in Bangladesh were very good or somewhat good and 77% said they feel the country is politically stable. Additionally, 65% of the respondents felt that the political stability of the country is likely to improve further in the year ahead. 72% respondents replied that the national government’s performance has been “good” in keeping the peace.

Majority Support Current Government
In some of the most factors of running the country, the current government received more than 70% approval ratings. For instance, in education, 88% respondents said that the government’s performance is good; 78% for healthcare; 77% for infrastructural development; 71% for gender equality; 70% for water and sanitation and electricity supply. The government also received more than 60% approval ratings for fighting crime (65%), controlling inflation (62%), creating employment (61%) and reducing poverty (61%).

Majority Support Awami League
A variety of queries showed majority support for the Awami League (AL) as a party, as opposed to the other main political party, Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP). 71% of the people ‘like’ the AL as opposed to 48% for BNP. 57% feel AL is more trustworthy as opposed to 25% for BNP, while 61% feel AL has strong leadership as opposed to 21% for BNP. AL also fared better than BNP in terms of: having many young leaders; supporting women; having good policies; caring about people; having pro-poor policies and consistently fighting corruption. Future hopes also rest high more on AL than BNP, as the former has been identified for further improving education, infrastructure, healthcare, economy, security, strengthening nation, ending ethnic conflict and maintaining political stability.

According to the respondents, the most important challenges facing Bangladesh are economy, security/law and order, political instability corruption and transportation/traffic/infrastructure. As for extremism, 51% respondents said extremism is a problem in Bangladesh. 44% feel religious extremism in particular is a problem while 53% said political extremism is a problem. But the hopeful point is that 93% of the respondents also agreed that violence is never justified to be used.

The survey was conducted by Nielsen-Bangladesh and the International Republican Institute between February 4 and 21, 2016. Data was collected using a multi-stage stratified probability sample and through in-person, in-home interviews. The sample was stratified by the eight administrative divisions, by district and by urban and rural locations. The sample consisted of 2,550 respondents (response rate: 43 percent) aged 18 and older, and was representative of voting-age adults nationally. The margin of error does not exceed plus or minus two percent at the mid-range with a confidence level of 95 percent.

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