According to the latest ‘Democracy in Post War Sri Lanka’ survey conducted by Social Indicator, the survey research unit of the Centre for Policy Alternatives, divisions between people’s opinions on key issues still persist.
On the topic of a credible mechanism look into accountability for what happened during the last stages of the war, 42.6% of Sri Lankans stated that there should be such a mechanism, while 36.3% said no. Among the 32.2% from the Sinhala community who are in favour of such a mechanism, majority (57.8%) said that it should be a mechanism that was exclusively domestic while 34% said that it should be a combination of both domestic and international.
The Tamil community has the least amount of faith in an exclusively domestic mechanism with only 7% in favour of one. 44.9% said it should be an exclusively international one and 35.5% said a combination of the two.
Sri Lankans are divided on whether the National anthem should be sung in Sinhala and Tamil. 29.3% of Sri Lankans strongly agree that it should be sung in both languages while 32.1% strongly disagree. Majority from the Tamil, Up Country Tamil and Muslim communities say that it should be sung in both languages, while only 13.4% from the Sinhalese community state the same.
With regard to the 2015 Presidential Election, around 55% of Sri Lankans agree with the submission that President Sirisena owes his victory to the minority vote, whilst 31.8% do not. From an ethnic perspective, 90.6% from the Tamil community, 85.5% from the Up Country Tamil community, 85.2% from the Muslim community and 44.9% from the Sinhalese community are of the opinion that President Sirisena owes his victory to the minority vote.
Majority of Sri Lankans (73.8%) believe that their vote has an impact on the outcome of an election, a notable increase from 2014 (59.5%). When asked of how free people feel in expressing their opinion on politics, irrespective of where they are and who they are with, 46.6% believe that they are completely free. This is an increase in comparison to 2013 (35.4%) and 2014 (31.2%). Almost 80% of Sri Lankans believe that they have the freedom to choose who to vote for without feeling pressured, a slight increase from 74.4% in 2013.
There has been an increase in the trust that Sri Lankans have for the Army, as 44.2% in 2015 stated that they have a great deal of trust in comparison to the 33.7% in 2014. The Tamil community has the least amount trust in the Army with 52% stating that they have no trust, followed by the Up Country Tamil with 47%.
There has been a notable change in opinion among Sri Lankans when it comes to the Election Commission. 17.2% said that they have a great deal of trust and 45.1% said some trust in the Election Commission, an increase when compared to 2014, where only 7.6% had a great deal of trust and 31% said some trust.
When comes to the media landscape under President Sirisena’s administration, 51.7% of Sri Lankans agree (with 12.7% strongly agreeing) that the media is completely free to criticise the Government as they wish. This is a noteworthy increase when compared to the previous years – 42% in 2011, 42.5% in 2013 and 39.2% in 2014.
‘Democracy in post-war Sri Lanka’ sought to record public perspectives on democracy in Sri Lanka today and the findings are presented under four key sections – The New Government, Security and Freedom, Trust in Institutions and Media in Sri Lanka. The first wave was conducted in 2011 and the second wave in 2013 and the third in 2014.
Conducted in the 25 districts of the country, the 2015 survey captured the opinion of 1987 Sri Lankans from the four main ethnic groups. The selection of respondents was random across the country except in a few areas in the Northern Province where access was difficult. Fieldwork was conducted in March 2015. (Colombo Gazette)