NDI's latest report on public opinion in Sudan, entitled Imagining the Election, explores what citizens in Southern Sudan and the Three Areas know and expect of the country's planned 2010 parliamentary and presidential elections.
Based on 78 focus group discussions with 964 citizens in Southern Sudan, Abyei, Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile, Imagining the Election finds considerable gaps in the public's knowledge of the upcoming poll. Many are unaware of the array of offices due to appear on the ballot, and mistakenly believe they will be voting exclusively for the presidency of the Republic or the presidency of the Government of Southern Sudan. Others show a lack of familiarity with basic electoral procedures, such as voting in secret. Few know of the need to register prior to the election.
Despite these gaps, the vast majority of focus group participants are enthusiastic about the election and eager to vote. However, they cite obstacles that could prevent them from doing so, such as distant polling stations or a lack of proper identification documents. They also express concern about the possibility of violent conflict and vote buying. To help mitigate these risks, many call on the international community to play a central role in monitoring the elections.
As with all of NDI's Sudan public opinion studies, citizens were asked about their views on government performance, development, security and the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. The research reveals that attitudes in Southern Sudan have darkened since NDI's 2007 study of citizen opinion. While many recognize that the Government of Southern Sudan is young and inexperienced, they complain of a lack of basic services, insecurity and what they regard as pervasive government corruption.
Pictured above: Imagining the Election report cover
Published on September 30, 2009