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Democracy In Post War Sri Lanka – 2014

Written By NAFSO on Wednesday, November 12, 2014 | 1:22:00 PM


study carried out by the Center for Policy Alternatives on Democracy in Post war Sri Lanka sees 24.5% of Sri Lankans say that after the end of war Sri Lanka is much more democratic while 34.2% say that it is ‘somewhat more democratic.’
Accordingly 10.2% say that it is remained the same and 20.5% said that they were not sure. Almost 50% of the Up Country Tamil community believe that Sri Lanka is much more democratic after the end of war while 24.7% of Sinhalese, 17% of Tamil and 20.6% of Muslim communities believe the same.
Around 40% from the Tamil and Muslim communities and 32.8% from the Sinhalese believe that it is somewhat more democratic. 18.3% of Muslim and 11.3% of Tamil communities however stated that Sri Lanka is somewhat less democratic (Refer Graph 2.3).
The findings of this survey has been categorised into five key sections – Economy and Development, Post War Sri Lanka, The Government, Media, and the Role of Religion and Ethnicity in Politics. On the Sri Lankan economy, 31.9% of Sri Lankans believe that the general economic situation in the country has got a little better while almost 27% say that it has got a little worse and 18.5% say that it has got a lot worse. When it comes to the current economic situation of the country, 36.7% of Sri Lankans believe that it is somewhat good while 30.6% say somewhat bad and 19.5% say that it is very bad.
Graph 2.3: The role of the forces is expanding to include civilian tasks – such as selling vegetables and other economic and recreation roles. Do you approve or disapprove of this? and Graph 1.1: How do you think the general economic situation in this country has changed over the last two years?
The financial situation of the household seems to have got worse in the last 2 years – almost 30% of Sri Lankans say that it has got a little worse while 25.6% say that it has got a lot worse.
24.2% of Sri Lankans state that they have gone without medicine or medical treatment in the last year, with the Up Country Tamil community (58.2%) being the most affected.
Compromising on food quality, 42.7% of Sri Lankans say that they have cut back on the amount or quality of food they have purchased with again the Up Country Tamil community being the most affected (almost 60%).
When it comes to reconciliation, divisions in opinion between the communities persist. 40.8% of Sri Lankans believe that the Government has done a little, but not enough to address the root causes of the conflict, which resulted in thirty years of war. 39.9% from the Tamil community and 33.3% from the Up Country Tamil community believe that the Government has done nothing to address the root causes of the war while 35% from the Sinhalese community said the Government has done a lot to address the root causes.
Around 54% of Sri Lankans say that they approve of the increase in the role of the forces in civilian tasks, with 17% saying that they strongly approve. 41.6% from the Sinhalese community said that they somewhat approve of this role while 30.2% from the Tamil community said that they strongly disapproved.
Graph 2.1: How do you think the general security situation in this country has changed over the last 2 years? and Graph 2.2: In your opinion, in the past two years, do you think the government has done enough to address the root causes of the conflict, which resulted in thirty years of war?
From a list of key institutions that affect how the country is run, citizens place the most amount of trust in the Army, Civil service and the Central Government. 33.7% of Sri Lankans stated that they have a great deal of trust in the Army and they trust political parties the least with 37.8% stating that they have no trust and only 3.1% said that they have a great deal of trust. The institution that the Sinhalese community trusts the most is the Army (41.3%), while it is the Courts for the Tamil (35.7%),  Up Country Tamil (36.3%) and Muslim (26.9%) communities.

The Economy
Sri Lankans appear divided on the general economic situation in Sri Lanka. 12.4% say that it has got a lot better while 31.9% say it has got a little better. However, almost 27% say that it has got a little worse and 18.5% say that it has got a lot worse. 30.8% from the Tamil community and 32.9% from the Up Country Tamil community say that it has got a lot worse while 35.8% from the Muslim community say that it has got a little worse. Almost 40% from the Up Country Tamil community however, do say that it has got a little better (Refer Graph 1.1).

Security
Around 80% of Sri Lankans believe that the general security situation in the country has got a lot better in the last two years, with 38.4% stating that it has got a lot better. 42.1% from the Sinhalese community and 43.6% from the Up Country Tamil community believe it has got a lot better while 42.3% from the Tamil community and 46.6% from the Up Country Tamil community say it has got a little better (Refer Graph 2.1).

Reconciliation
On reconciliation, 40.8% of Sri Lankans believe that the Government has done a little, but not enough to address the root causes of the conflict which resulted in thirty years of war. 27.9% say that the Government has done a lot while 22.5% said that they do not know. The difference in opinion between the 4 main communities is noteworthy, with 39.9% from the Tamil community and 33.3% from the Up Country Tamil community stating that the Government has done nothing while only 3.1% from the Sinhalese community and 6.3% from the Muslim community expressed the same. 35% from the Sinhalese community said the Government has done a lot while only 2.3% from the Tamil, 11.5% from the Up Country Tamil and 8.6% from the Muslim communities said the same (Refer Graph 2.2).
In 2013, 26.5% from the Tamil community and 13.4% from the Up Country Tamil community said the Government has done nothing, an increase when compared to this year’s 39.9% and 33.3%  respectively.  With the role of the forces in civilian tasks, such as selling vegetables or partaking in other economic  and recreation roles, increasing every year since the end of the war, how do Sri Lankans feel about it?  Around 54% say that they approve, with 17% saying that they strongly approve. 23.2% of Sri Lankans say that they strongly disapprove and 12.7% say the somewhat disapprove. 41.6% from the Sinhalese community said that they somewhat approve of this role while 29.1% from the Up Country Tamil community said that they strongly approved. 30.2% from the Tamil community said that they strongly disapproved while 36.4% from the Muslim community stated that they did not know (Refer Graph 2.3).
When compared to 2013, the National opinion has not changed significantly. However, disapproval in the Tamil community has increased – in 2013, 26.9% said that they disapprove with 17.7% saying that they strongly disapprove and in 2014 this increased to 42.9% stating their disapproval with 30.2% saying strongly disapprove.
When asked what the official language of Sri Lanka is, it is noteworthy that 73.4% of Sri Lankans think that it is Sinhala only, with only 11% saying it is Sinhala and Tamil. This view is held by majority of the Sinhalese community with 81.8% saying that it is Sinhala only and 5% saying it is Sinhala and Tamil.
52.4% from the Tamil community, 63.3% from the Up Country Tamil and 34.7% from Muslim also think that the official language of Sri Lanka is only Sinhala. 22.2% from the Tamil, 13.9% from the Up Country Tamil and 44.9% from the Muslim community said that it is Sinhala and Tamil. On the question of allocation of resources, 46.3% of Sri Lankans say that the Government should give priority in allocating resources to rebuilding the conflict affected areas, even if this means that less money is spent in the rest of the country. 20.5% say that there are many other problems facing this country that the Government should focus on, and that rebuilding the conflict affected areas should not be given priority over the needs of the rest of the country. 60.3% from the Tamil community and around 45% from the Sinhala, Up Country Tamil and Muslim sated that priority should be given to rebuilding conflict affected areas. Opinion that Government should give priority to allocating resources to rebuilding conflict affected areas has shifted as support for this has decreased across all four communities when 2013. In 2013 59.1% of Sinhalese, 79.5% of Tamil, 63.5% of Up Country Tamil and 49% of Muslim communities were in favour of priority to rebuilding conflict affected areas and in 2014 there is a decline in support for this.

Role of religion and ethnicity In politics
•      To 42.7% of Sri Lankans, it is important that public officials represent their ethnicity or religion while 3 for 24.5% it is not important.
•      Around 51% from the Up Country Tamil and Muslim communities and around 42% from the Sinhala and Tamil communities said that it is important that public officials represent their ethnicity or religion.
•      Majority of Sri Lankans (70.3%) agreed that the ethnicity or religion of public officials should have no relevance to their powers and duties.
•      Almost half of the Sri Lankans (49.2%) say it is problematic for a country like Sri Lanka to have ethnicity or religion based political parties.
•      50% from the Sinhala and Tamil communities think it is problematic while 54.4% from the Up Country Tamil community say the same. 28% from the Muslim community do not think its problematic.
•      Close to 40% of Sri Lankans also think that it is unavoidable for a country like Sri Lanka to have ethnicity or religion based political parties.
•      More than half of Sri Lankans (53.9%) do not think that religious leaders/priests should be represented in Parliament and other legislative bodies.
•      When asked for their opinion on the role of Buddhism in Sri Lankan politics, 37.9% of Sri Lankans said that it is the right amount while 37.8% of Sri Lankans said that the role is too much.
•      The view that the role of Buddhism in Sri Lankan politics is too much is felt by majority of the Tamil (79.3%), Up Country Tamil (91.1%) and Muslim (83.4%) communities while only 23.1% from the Sinhalese community felt the same. Close to 50% of Sinhalese believe that it is the right amount.
•      59.2% of Sri Lankans think that Sri Lankan’s Constitution should recognise ethnicity while 15.6% say that the Constitution should have no reference to ethnicity.

Political parties
Almost half of the Sri Lankans (49.2%) say it is problematic for a country like Sri Lanka to have ethnicity or religion based political parties while 21.3% said they are not sure of their opinion. 50% from the Sinhala and Tamil communities think it is problematic while 54.4% from the Up Country Tamil community say the same. 28% from the Muslim community do not think its problematic (Refer Graph 5.3). Compared to 2013 data, there is around a 5% – 8% increase in the national opinion as well as across the communities of those who think it is problematic.
However, close to 40% of Sri Lankans also think that it is unavoidable for a country like Sri Lanka to have ethnicity or religion based political parties. 25.5% stated that they were unsure of their opinion on this. The 4 communities are also split on this issue with around 41% from the Sinhala, Tamil and Up Country Tamil communities and 32.4% from the Muslim community saying that it is unavoidable.

Religious leaders
35.2% of Sri Lankans say that religious leaders/priests should influence opinion by expressing their views on moral/social/policy/political matters while 23% say they should not. The communities are also divided on this question with 36.3% of Sinhalese, 32.4% of Tamil, 31.6% of Up Country Tamil and 30.7% of Muslim communities stating that religious leaders/priests should influence opinion while around 34% from the Tamil, Up Country Tamil and Muslim communities stated that they should not influence opinion.
38.2% of Sri Lankans believe that religious leaders/priests should have an official role in making Government policy while 25.3% said that they should not have an official role. It is mainly the Sinhalese community (42.8%) from the 4 communities that support the idea of an official role while 46.5% of Tamil, 43.8% of Up Country Tamil and 38.6% of Muslim communities saying that religious leaders/priests should not have an official role in making Government policy.
Compared to 2013 data, less people in the Up Country Tamil think that religious leaders/priests should not have a role (in 2013, 59.8% said they should not have a role compared to 43.8% in 2014) while those who disapprove of an official role has increased in the Muslim community (25% in 2013 to 34.7% in 2014)
More than half of Sri Lankans (53.9%) do not think that religious leaders/priests should be represented in Parliament and other legislative bodies.
Only 13.3% of Sri Lankans think they should be represented. 56.3% of Sinhalese, 52.6% of Tamil, 46.3% of Up Country tamil and 39.2% of Muslim communities do not think that religious leaders/priests should be represented in Parliament and other legislative bodies (Refer Graph 5.7).
The disapproval for representation in Parliament and other legislative bodies as notably increased since 2013. In 2013, 38.5% of Sinhalese, 47.2% of Tamil and 68.8% of Up Country Tamil and 22.8% of Muslim communities said that they should not be represented.
On the question of whether religious leaders/priests have no role in politics or governance, 33.7% of Sri Lankans think that they have no role while 26.5% think that religious leaders/priests have a role. 40% of Up Country Tamil and 36.9% of Muslim communities don’t think religious leaders/priests have a role while 41.6% from the Tamil community believe they have a role (Refer Graph 5.8).
Role of Buddhism
When asked for their opinion on the role of Buddhism in Sri Lankan politics, 37.9% of Sri Lankans  said that it is the right amount while 37.8% of Sri Lankans said that the role is too much. The view that the role of Buddhism in Sri Lankan politics is too much is felt by majority of the Tamil (79.3%), Up Country Tamil (91.1%) and Muslim (83.4%) communities while only 23.1% from the Sinhalese community felt the same. Close to 50% of Sinhalese believe that it is the right amount (Refer Graph 5.9).
The Constitution
59.2% of Sri Lankans think that our Constitution should recognise ethnicity while 15.6% say that our Constitution should have no reference to ethnicity. From the 4 communities, it is mainly the Sinhala community (62.9%) who believe that the Constitution should recognise ethnicity, compared to the Tamil (39.9%), Up Country Tamil (55.7%) and Muslim (54%) communities (Refer Graph 5.10).
There is a significant increase in the Tamil and Muslim communities of those who say that Sri Lanka’s  Constitution should recognise ethnicity. In 2013, 66.2% of Tamil and 44% of Muslim communities said that the Constitution should recognise ethnicity.
Among the Sinhalese, most (45.5%) say that the Constitution should protect the freedom of religion as  a Fundamental right. In the Tamil community 40.4% said that Sri Lanka’s Constitution should have a reference to all major religions in the country while 49.4% from the Up Country Tamil community agreed with the same.
The Muslim community appears quite divided on this matter with 32.6% saying that only Buddhism should be given a special place in Sri Lanka’s Constitution, while assuring the freedom of religion to others, 29.1% say that the Constitution should protect the freedom of religion as a Fundamental right while 26.3% said that Sri Lanka’s Constitution should have no mention of religion, except to guarantee the freedom of religion to all (Refer Graph 5.11).
While there are some shifts in opinion when compared to 2013, the most significant shifts are in the Tamil and Muslim community opinion.
In 2013, 28.9% in the Tamil community said that Sri Lanka’s Constitution should have reference to all major religions in the country and this has increased to 40.4% in 2014 and while also in 2013, 37.9% in the Tamil community said that Sri Lanka’s Constitution should have no mention of religion, except to guarantee the freedom of religion to all and this has dropped to 27.7% in 2014.
In the Muslim community in 2013, 29.1% said that Sri Lanka’s Constitution should have reference to all major religions in the country and this has dropped to 5.7% in 2014.  In 2013 only 1.7% said that only Buddhism should be given a special place in Sri Lanka’s Constitution, while assuring the freedom of religion to all others whereas in 2014 this has significantly increased to 32.6%. 43.5% said that the Constitution should protect freedom of religion as a fundamental right.

POST WAR SRI LANKA

Summary
• Around 80% of Sri Lankans believe that the general security situation in the country has got a lot better in the last two years, with 38.4% stating that it has got a lot better.
•  On reconciliation, 40.8% of Sri Lankans believe that the Government has done a little, but not enough to address the root causes of the conflict which resulted in thirty years of war.
• 39.9% from the Tamil community and 33.3% from the Up Country Tamil community believe that the Government has done nothing to address the root causes of the war while only 3.1% from the Sinhalese community and 6.3% from the Muslim community expressed the same.
• 35% from the Sinhalese community said the Government has done a lot to address the root causes while only 2.3% from the Tamil, 11.5% from the Up Country Tamil and 8.6% from the Muslim communities said the same.
• Around 54% of Sri Lankans say that they approve of the increase in the role of the forces in civilian tasks, with 17% saying that they strongly approve.
•  41.6% from the Sinhalese community said that they somewhat approve of this role while 30.2% from the Tamil community said that they strongly disapproved.
•  24.5% of Sri Lankans say that after the end of war Sri Lanka is much more democratic.
• 73.4% of Sri Lankans think that the official language of Sri Lanka is Sinhala only, with only 11% saying it is Sinhala and Tamil.
•   If an unjust law is passed by the Government, 29% of Sri Lankans believe that there is nothing they can do about it
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