(The Irrawaddy) —According to an Irrawaddy survey, many people believe the Union Solidarity and Development Party led by Prime Minister Thein Sein will win a majority of seats in the upcoming election. That belief was supported by 418 out of 450 people who shared their opinions.
The majority surveyed said that the military government will create conditions for the USDP to win the election. The new party’s title appears to be derived from the name of the junta’s mass organization, the Union Solidarity and Development Association (USDA). However, if the election were free and fair, the USDP would be unlikely to win.
In the poll, 450 people in Rangoon from all walks of life were asked three questions: if they felt satisfied with the USDP led by PM Thein Sein; if they planned to vote for USDP candidates and would the USDP win in election?
Among the respondents, there were 150 were government workers, 20 military officers, 30 army veterans, 50 university students and 200 civilians; ages ranged from 20 to 60.
“We know they will be the winners. In reality, we don’t even need elections. We all know what the result of the election will be,” said one government worker.
A student said, “The result is clear. The USDP will win. If they are unlikely to win, then they will try to win by any means.”
In 2008, the military regime engaged in vote rigging to approve the new Constitution. In the upcoming election, the government will use the same methods, said one respondent.
On the question of whether they felt satisfied that a USDP political party was formed made up of ministers of the military government, 143 out of 150 government workers said that they were not satisfied.
However, seventeen out of 20 army officers responded that they were satisfied with the creation of the USDP.
Among veterans, 18 said they were not satisfied with the USDP transformation into political party and 12 said they were satisfied.
Among university students, 41 said they were not satisfied and nine expressed satisfaction.
Among civilians, 196 out of 200 said they were not satisfied with the the formation of a USDP.
“In my opinion, they (the government) insulted the people. They act like they don’t care about citizens of this country and they do whatever they want to do,” said one respondent.
“We were forced to sign agreements that we won’t get involved in politics after they passed the law which said government servants must not be involved in politics. Look, now the prime minister is going to contest in the election. They do whatever they want to do. Under this kind of situation, we don’t even need the elections. They are just making people busy,” said one government worker. She said Thein Sein and and other ministers are still in government service.
One army veteran said, “I don’t like the government, but what we can do? We can’t do anything.”
On the question of whether they planned to vote for the USDP, 144 government workers answered, “No” and six answered “Yes.”
“We are government servants, and we are also members of USDP. So, we have to vote for them,” said one government worker.
Among 20 army officers who responded to the question, three answered “No.”
“I won’t cast my vote for the USDP,” said one officer. “Even if I am punished for not voting for them, I wouldn’t do that.”
Among 50 students, 44 said they will not vote for the USDP and six said they would.
Among army veterans, 23 said they will not for the USDP and seven said they would.
A student who said that she will vote for USDP candidates, said,“I promised my parents I will vote for USDP. We got the electric meter box for our house by the help of USDP. So we will vote for them.”
The USDP, now led by Thein Sein, was formed 17 years ago. Observers said the civic organization is now engaged in work in many townships such as lending money, drilling wells for drinking water, arranging for citizen ID cards, providing free tuition classes, free medical treatment, etc. People who receive such benefits must agree to vote for USDP party candidates.
Opposition to USDP party candidates was strongest among civilians. A woman said, “I will vote for people who are not USDP candidates.”
Among civilians, 178 said they would not vote for USDP-backed candidates and 22 said they would.
“If there’s no punishment for not voting for the USDP, I won’t vote for them. But if I am forced to vote for USDP, I can’t avoid it,” said one man.
A woman said, “Our local USDA chairman is good. He is lending money to those in need. He is also interested in social activities.”