A research team from Pepperdine University led by Angela Hawken has released the findings of a survey of Syrian public opinion which reveals widespread dissatisfaction with the status quo. The survey involved 1046 in-person interviews carried out in January-February 2010 without the approval of the Syrian government, with an attempt to achieve a geographic and demographic representative sample. There are many problems with surveying public opinion in authoritarian societies, including the difficulty of getting accurate samples and the fear among respondents of answering honestly.
With all appropriate caveats, here are some of the interesting findings:
- Quality of life: 39% described their personal and family situation as good or very good, 25% as bad or very bad, and the rest as neither good nor bad; only 25% expected it to get worse in the future.
- Politics. 60% described the political and economic situation of the country as bad or very bad, however, and just under 10% as good. Only 17% expressed optimism that the situation would improve. Almost 80% said that martial law should be lifted. Only 7% rated the performance of government institutions positively.
- Civil society: 68% said that they rarely or never participated in unions, clubs, charitable organizations or other voluntary associations.
- Media: 60.5% have internet access at home or at work, and 97% access to satellite TV. The two most popular TV programs are an historical soap opera and al-Jazeera’s political talk show The Opposite Direction.
- Corruption. 87% said they considered corruption to be widespread.
The full survey can be downloaded from Pepperdine University here.