Election 2020

Ahead of Poll, Myanmar Public’s Trust in Daw Aung San Suu Kyi Rises: Survey

By Nan Lwin 7 October 2020

YANGON—As the country prepares to hold an election in November, the public’s trust in Myanmar’s State Counselor has increased since last year, according to a nationwide pre-vote survey conducted by the country’s largest poll monitor, proving that Daw Aung San Suu Kyi remains a special figure in the eyes of the vast majority of Myanmar people.

The survey by the People’s Alliance for Credible Elections (PACE) found that the level of trust in Daw Aung San Suu Kyi was at 79 percent, up from 70 percent last year. The survey measured citizens’ trust in public figures and institutions including the State Counselor, the President, the Ministry of Health and Sports (MOHS), local administrators, parliaments, religious leaders, the military, the Union Election Commission, the courts, ethnic armed organizations and the media.

PACE said the level of trust in political institutions had improved since its March 2019 survey. State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and President U Win Myint received the citizens’ highest level of trust, followed by the MOHS, ward/village tract administrators and townships administrators. As the country struggles to cope with a second wave of COVID-19 infections, public trust in the MOHS was at 63 percent, making it the third-most-trusted institution in the country, according to the survey.

Public trust in the military declined to 43 percent from 44 percent in 2019. However, trust in the Union Parliament increased to 53 percent from 47 percent.

PACE conducted 2,577 interviews across the country to gauge citizens’ level of awareness about the elections, whether they intended to vote, their perceptions of the current political situation, how they prioritized key issues, their level of trust in different institutions, their views on political parties, and their expectations of the candidates, among other things. However, it said the team was not able to conduct interviews in some locations in Kachin, Shan and Rakhine states due to security and COVID-19 concerns. Therefore, it said, the findings may not represent the views of citizens in those locations.

When it comes to the public’s view on which political parties most closely represent their interests and views, the NLD obtained the highest rank in this category, with 39 percent of respondents citing the party, compared to 33 percent last year. Some 7 percent cited the USDP, up from 6 percent last year.

Almost two-thirds of respondents expressed positive views of the NLD, while more than one quarter said they had positive views of the USDP. However, almost two-thirds of respondents did not express a positive or negative view of any political party.

Only about half of respondents said they “will definitely vote” in the upcoming election. PACE said this was unchanged from 2019’s survey. One third indicated they had no concerns about possible barriers to voting in election, while one third were concerned about COVID-19 and related health issues.

The proportion of respondents who said they believe the country is going in the right direction increased to 52 percent this year from 37 percent last year. Moreover, the proportion of respondents who said they believed their region or state is going in the right direction increased to 52 percent from 38 percent last year.

More than half of respondents pointed to poor government services and infrastructure as the most important problems facing the country, and as issues that the government should address.

Additionally, more than half of respondents said they were concerned with the accuracy of the information they receive, and one third said they had received misleading or false information regarding the election and political parties.

According to the survey, the majority of citizens agreed that the secrecy of the ballots, neutrality of the election commission, absence of fraud in the process, integrity of the vote count, accuracy or correctness of the results, ability to campaign freely and absence of voter intimidation are important factors in holding a free and fair election. Compared to the findings from PACE’s 2015 pre-election survey, the awareness of citizens regarding free and fair elections had increased, according to the monitoring group.

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