Half the respondents said the candidates’ acceptability and qualifications govern their voting decisions
Unemployment, problems in transport infrastructure, and crisis in the education sector are the top three issues that voters expect solutions from the political parties contesting the upcoming general polls, according to a survey.
Issues like a free and fair election and the Rohingya crisis, although crucial and much discussed across the country, remain behind job, transport and education sectors in terms of voters’ priority, the survey has found.
Dhaka-based international NGO Brac conducted the nationwide survey in September-October, where 5,378 people from all 64 districts were surveyed using a semi-structured questionnaire.
Respondents included government and private service-holders, business owners, homemakers and day-labourers. The respondents were 50% men and 50% women. Around 53.3% respondents were young voters, belonging to the age group of 18-35 years.
According to the survey, the highest percentage of respondents, 27.7%, said they were looking for a solution to the countrywide unemployment problem, while 26.3% want to see development in the transport infrastructure, and nearly 24% prioritize development of the education sector.
Demand for a free and fair election came fourth on the list, as only 17.17% of the respondents said they expected to see a credible election.
The Rohingya crisis, which has affected Bangladesh to a great extent and remain an issue of high concern globally, was voted by 4.5% respondents as a severely pressing concern at present, while 4% prioritized agricultural development.
The rest of the issues that voters are looking for in the election manifestos are: measures against drug abuse, steps towards stopping corruption, national development, development in the health sector, proper regulations over price hike, and road safety.
The 11th parliamentary election is scheduled to take place on December 30.
<Manifestos are important, yet not read>
Although 82.8% respondents said they consider election manifestos are important documents, only one in four respondents of the survey said they had ever read one.
Instead of relying on verbal sessions, 21.4% of the respondents have emphasized the need for publicity on a massive scale by parties to encourage voters to read their manifestos.
Around 14.1% respondents said the parties should directly communicate their electoral pledges to the voters, while 9.2% said using the media was a good way. Meanwhile, 7.2% respondents approved of using posters, banners and leaflets to deliver the manifestos to the voters.
A majority of 78.3%, however, thought that verbal promises or commitments made by individual contestants are also significant.
<Candidate acceptability, qualification govern voting decisions>
Nearly half the respondents, or 49.1%, voted that the candidates’ acceptability and qualifications were key factors that govern voting decisions.
Meanwhile, for 30.5% respondents, electoral symbol of the parties influence their voting decisions.
Only 7% respondents said they considered the manifestos before making a voting decision.
For a vast majority (69.1%) of respondents, commitment towards resolving pressing national issues govern their voting decisions, while one in every four or 25.1% said promises to deal with local or regional issues matter most to them.
<Priorities in draft manifestos of AL, BNP and Oikya Front>
The Awami League will announce its election manifesto for the election by December 15 with a focus on transforming villages into townships, as well as incorporating other various development programs, according to media reports.
Balanced development of the country, quality education and appropriate employment opportunities for the youth, building a developed and digital Bangladesh, development of information and technology, nutrition, fuel and mineral sectors, and mega projects will be highlighted in the ruling party’s electoral pledges.
Building a sustainable and developed country that is free from poverty, terrorism and extremism is at the core of Awami League’s manifesto, according to the reports.
On the other hand, good governance, national unity, establishing rule of law and balance of power in the state will be highlighted in BNP’s manifesto. Independence of judiciary, modernization of armed forces; freedom of press and establishment of fundamental rights for all citizens is also in its agenda for the manifesto.
Meanwhile, Jatiya Oikya Front, the newly formed political coalition that is a key opposition to the ruling 14-party alliance, plans to include establishing good governance and justice, ensuring freedom of speech and press, and eliminating political grouping in government administration, constitutional bodies and other organizations as major pledges in its manifesto.
Farmer-friendly agricultural policy, education policy and health policy will also be focused on in the coalition’s manifesto.