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27 December, 2018 12:38:07 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 27 December, 2018 12:14:01 PM
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Survey finds 248 seats for AL-led Grand Alliance

Oikyafront to win 49 seats while others to get 3, says RDC survey
STAFF REPORTER, Dhaka
Survey finds 248 seats for AL-led Grand Alliance

Over 60 per cent of voters in an opinion poll have expressed their support for the Awami League (AL)-led Grand Alliance in the upcoming general election slated for December 30, while only 22 per cent supported the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP)-led Jatiya Oikyafront, according to a survey report released yesterday.

In the opinion poll, only 4 per cent of voters expressed their support for the Jatiya Party (JP). The survey estimated that the AL-led Grand Alliance would secure 248 seats out of 300, while the BNP-led Jatiya Oikyafront would get 49 seats. Others and Independent candidates would manage to get only three seats.

The survey, jointly commissioned by The Independent and Independent Television, was conducted on 2,249 voters of 51 constituencies between December 9 and December 16 by the Research & Development Centre (RDC), an independent research organisation.

While unveiling the survey report at a hotel in the capital, Forrest E. Cookson, the RDC consultant, said the survey had been conducted to find out the voting intentions of Bangladeshi voters for the 2018 parliamentary election.

He also said that earlier surveys of RDC had correctly predicted the outcomes of the 2001 and 2008 elections. In the 2008 parliamentary election, the AL-led alliance had received 57 per cent of the votes, while the BNP-led alliance bagged only 37 per cent and others 6 per cent of the total votes.

Regarding the neutrality of the survey, Cookson said: “The survey is politically neutral; it aims to find out the most likely outcome of the election.”

The survey report said at least 98 per cent of voters intended to participate in the next polls.

Voting intentions are the same for men and women and across age groups, the survey said. The youngest age cohort (aged 18–29 years) consists largely of voters who will be participating in a parliamentary election for the first time, it observed.

There was no difference in the voting preferences of young and older voters. Contrary to frequently expressed views, there was no evidence of any change in the political preferences of the young, according to the survey.

Cookson said such opinion polls were frequently carried out in democratic countries before elections.

“Pre-election polls are difficult to execute. In many locations, the persons interviewed will not reveal their true party preferences. This behaviour may arise from an attitude that it is not the business of the enumerator to ask or fear that the authorities will punish the voters for supporting the opposition party,” he pointed out.

However, the support for the AL-led Grand Alliance was relatively weaker in small towns and in district headquarters than in large cities of the divisional headquarters, the report said.

The support for the BNP-led Jatiya Oikyafront was found to be relatively stronger in the rural areas and small towns than in big cities.

At least 62.6 per cent of the people in big cities and 61.7 per cent of the rural voters supported the AL-led alliance, while only 16.1 per cent voters of the big cities and 23.1 per cent of the rural voters supported Jatiya Oikyafront.

Over 54.6 per cent voters of the small towns supported the AL alliance, while 22.9 per cent of them supported Oikyafront. On the other hand, 6.2 per cent voters of the big cities and 3.5 per cent of the rural voters supported Jatiya Party, the survey said.

Among female and male voters, 62.2 per cent female and 58.6 per cent male voters supported the AL-led alliance, while 22.6 per cent of male and 22 per cent of female voters supported the BNP-led Oikyafront.

In terms of religion-based voters, the AL-led alliance was supported by 87.9 per cent Hindu voters and 56.6 per cent Muslim voters. Jatiya Oikyafront did not have any Hindu support. Only 25.4 per cent Muslim supported them.

On the other hand, the Jatiya Party has only 5.2 per cent Hindu support and 3.5 per cent Muslim support in the opinion poll. In fact, the survey found that Hindu voters overwhelmingly support the AL-led Grand Alliance.

In the opinion poll, the AL-led alliance has got the backing of 61.6 per cent of the young voters of the 18 to 29 age group, while Oikyafront has got the support of only 23 per cent of such voters. The AL-led alliance secured 60.2 per cent of votes from the 50-plus age group, while Oikyafront got only 21.7 per cent votes from this age group.

From the age group of 30 to 49 years, the AL alliance has secured 59.6 per cent votes, while the BNP-led Oikyafront has bagged 22 per cent.

The Jatiya Party has secured 2.4 per cent, 5.1 per cent and 3.3 per cent votes from the age group of 18 to 29, 30 to 49 and 50+ years respectively.

In reply to a query, Cookson said reasonable secrecy and privacy of voters was ensured while carrying out such opinion polls to produce accurate figures.

Regarding the opinion of the respondents about the political parties, Cookson said the views of the respondents were asked for each party separately and so there is no information on the individual’s comparative assessment of the parties.

When the voters were asked about their opinions about the political parties, 64.6 per cent voters said the AL was a good party. On the other hand, 27.6 per cent voters said the BNP was a good party and only 14.9 per cent said the Jatiya Party was a good political party.

Regarding the process of the opinion polls, Cookson said the stratified probability sample was drawn using the Population Census 2011 to provide information on population of upazilas.

The upazilas were randomly selected. Once the upazilas were selected, a number of villages (rural) and Mahalla (urban) were selected from the Census. The RDC’s use of the voter list ensured that the structure of the sample was correctly drawn, with every voter having an equal chance of being selected.

Moreover, to reduce the respondents' concern that their selections would not be kept secret, a ballot was used with symbols of the AL, BNP and JP, as well as locations for the choice of undecided, refused to respond or did not intend to vote. A ballot printed on red was used for women and blue for men. The ballots were placed in a transparent ballot box for preserving the secrecy of the vote.

Further, to ensure proper work by enumerators, a major supervision effort was made. This included field supervisors, who were in the field with the enumerators, constantly checking the work. The respondents provided telephone numbers; data checkers in the head office of RDC telephoned the respondent to verify in a significant number of cases that the enumerators has been present and conducted the interview correctly.

In reply to a query, Cookson said: “A small sample size can provide the best results if properly managed due to the modern mathematical method. Such opinion polls were carried out in the US with a sample size of 1,000 people to get the best result.”

Sabrina Zaman, chief executive of Impact PR, conducted the programme.

SR

 

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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