A survey conducted by the Centre for Policy Alternatives, has found that Ranil Wickremesinghe has more support to be Prime Minister than Mahinda Rajapaksa.
Social Indicator, the survey research unit of the Centre for Policy Alternatives conducted an island wide pre election opinion poll with the objective of identifying Sri Lankan voter perceptions and attitudes on key topics being discussed in the lead up to the election and thereby contribute to the current political discourse.
Only 4 % of Sri Lankans believe that the 2015 General Election will not be free and fair and 66.9% believe that it will be.
When asked about who they think is best suited to be the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, majority from the Tamil (62.3%), Up Country Tamil (71.1%) and Muslim (62.3%) communities said Ranil Wickremesinghe, with less than 2% from each community saying that it should be Mahinda Rajapaksa. Opinion in the Sinhala community is divided, with 36% saying that it should be Mahinda Rajapaksa and 31.9% saying Ranil Wickremesinghe.
From a Provincial perspective, most Sri Lankans from the Western, Central, Northern, Eastern, North Western, Uva and Sabaragamuwa support Ranil Wickremesinghe as Prime Minister while those in the Southern and North Central Provinces say Mahinda Rajapaksa.
Sri Lankans are divided on the question about whether former President Mahinda Rajapaksa should be contesting in the upcoming General Elections. 40% of Sri Lankans say that the former President should contest while 42% say that he should not contest. Almost 50% from the Sinhala community say that he should contest while only 14.8% from the Tamil, 8.4% from the Up Country Tamil and 8.2% from the Muslim communities state the same.
When asked about what sort of party representation Sri Lanka should have in the next Parliament, 50.5% of Sri Lankans said that there should be more representation of one party, 25.4% said more representation to larger parties while 14.4% said greater representation of minority parties. For majority from the Sinhala community (57.8%), more representation of one party is preferable while 38.6% from the Tamil community and 31.3% from the Muslim community would prefer to see a greater representation of minority parties in the next Parliament.
The key issues that Sri Lankans believe the next Parliament should address are employment and employment opportunities for youth, reduction in the cost of living, accelerating the development of the country and improving the education system.
The three most important characteristics that Sri Lankans look for in a candidate are what that candidate has done for the country (19.4%), education (17.5%) and that they are not corrupt (15.6%).
These characteristics are similar across the four main ethnic groups as well, although education is also an important feature for both the Tamil community and the Up Country Tamil community.
When asked what issues are most important to them when determining which party/alliance to vote for people said the policies they promise to introduce, corruption related issues, development and the future of the country.
The fieldwork for this survey was conducted during the last two weeks of July and at that time 58.1% of Sri Lankans said that they have already made up their mind about whom they will vote for. 61.4% from the Sinhala community, 45.9% from the Tamil community and around 50% from the Up Country Tamil and Muslim communities say that they have already made up their mind. Almost 30% from the Tamil community stated that they will make up their mind a week before the election while 15.2% from the Muslim community say that they will make up their mind on election day.
For almost 50% of Sri Lankans it is extremely important that the candidates they plan on voting for have declared their assets while 18.5% say that it is somewhat important for them.
For 80.5% of the Up Country Tamil community it is extremely important while 45.7% from the Sinhala community, 51.6% from the Tamil community and 47% from the Muslim community feel the same.
For an overwhelming majority of Sri Lankans (86.4%), the media is a source of information during election time. (Refer Graph 9) When asked what their primary source of media is during election time, 80.9% of Sri Lankans said television, 7.1% said radio and 5.9% said newspapers. From among those whose primary source of information is television, 76.9% said that it is private television while 21.4% said State television.
From an ethnic perspective, for 85.6% from the Sinhalese community television is the main source of information during election time. For the Tamil community it is television (62.2%) and radio (18%), for the Up Country Tamil community television (74.7%) and radio (18.1%) and for the Muslim community it is also television (67.8%) and radio (15.8%).
59% of Sri Lankans say that the information they get from the media influence how they vote while 29.6% say that it does not influence. Information received from the media influencing people’s voting choices is highest in the Tamil community and Muslim community with around 40% from both communities stating that the information they get from the media influences how they vote.
When asked which media has the most influence on their opinion during this election time, 75.2% of Sri Lankans said television, 6.8% said radio and 5.5% said newspapers. (Colombo Gazette)