Economy More Important Than Democracy in Myanmar, Survey Says

By Zue Zue 23 August 2017

YANGON — Myanmar people rated economic development as more important than democratic reform, according to a survey of Myanmar public opinion by the International Republican Institute (IRI) released on Tuesday.

The survey questioned 3,000 people over the age of 18 across all states and regions between March 9 and April 1, 2017 on their views about their socio-economic status, political and security situations of the country, the democratic transition and rights, and perceptions of government, legislature, political parties and the media.

Only 24 percent of respondents said democratic reform was more important than economic development while another 11 percent described democratic reform as moderately important.

Forty percent of respondents thought the economy was more important than democracy.

IRI Asia Senior Advisor Johanna Kao said the survey intended to highlight what the government and political parties should do in the months ahead based on public opinion.

According to the survey, economy is the biggest concern of the people, followed by peace and resolving conflicts.

Thirty-one percent of the respondents answered that the economy should be a higher priority of the government than resolving conflict.

“Most of the voters will focus on their socio-economic life. They will think about other things only when they enjoy their socio-economic status. They will like and accept a government only when it solves their livelihood problems,” said Rob Varsalone of Global Strategic Partners who supervised the survey.

The majority of the respondents were optimistic about Myanmar’s economy with 53 percent answering that it was doing well, while 22 percent said it was doing badly.

“It is important to assess those figures based on demographics rather than believing the figures as they are,” said U Tin Maung Oo of the Former Political Prisoner Society.

He pointed out the survey did not touch upon issues concerning the military.

IRI, a US-based non-profit organization promoting democracy worldwide, conducted its first survey in Myanmar in 2014.

The organization operates in 85 countries around the world.