Centre for Policy Alternatives on 4 February, 2019

Values and Attitudes Survey on 70 Years of Independence in Sri Lanka

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This study aims to capture public opinion on areas pertaining to governance, democracy, political ideology, international relations, peace and reconciliation – following 70 years’ of Independence in Sri Lanka. In particular, the youth vote and the extent to which there is a democratic deficit between this sector and their electoral representatives. The overarching idea of the survey is to map out what Sri Lanka may look like once it celebrates 100 years of independence with the millennials in charge of government and governance.

Since 1948 Sri Lanka, considered to be one of Asia’s oldest democracies, carved its own path towards nation building – experiencing many achievements as well as many trials in the process. On the one hand, the country managed to maintain relatively high social indicators, especially in comparison to its South Asian neighbours, whilst on the other, it suffered civil unrest (the Southern Marxist resurrection) and a protracted civil conflict (ethnic conflict between the State and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) that lasted nearly three decades. Despite an end to the civil conflict in May 2009, the country still struggles to find a lasting solution to the long years of suffering and destruction.

Although Sri Lanka celebrates a completion of 70 years’ of independence, it is evident that the country continues to attract ethnic politics, which in turn results in sporadic violence within communities. Despite experiencing an uninterrupted democratic history with regular elections involving a wide participation among citizens, the attraction for authoritarian leadership does not seem to have faded away. Although there have been numerous attempts of reforming the country’s constitution- these efforts have subsequently failed. The Sri Lankan society continues to experience a rapid transformation as a result of globalisation, emerging global and regional powers, and various other political and economic realities. The current behaviour as well as the policies advocated by political parties do not appear to be strong enough to address the deepening challenges faced by contemporary Sri Lanka.

It is in this context that this survey was conducted to assess the opinion of the citizens of Sri Lanka, and their stance on key issues related to democracy and governance. As such, this study intends on enhancing ongoing political debate by influencing policy makers to understand the different dynamics prevalent among various groups, thereby helping people of authority advocate suitable policy reform. In addition, this study provides a snapshot of the attitudes and perception of the public at a time when the country contemplates the drafting of a new constitution. This top-line report of the study shares the findings of the survey in a descriptive form, in order to invite multiple interpretations from various stakeholders. Social Indicator aims to produce its full report with expert analysis and interpretations in the months to come.

Download the topline report in English, Sinhala and Tamil.