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Studies 31 May, 2014

Syrian Presidential elections: What do Syrian Refugees Really Think?

In a press conference scheduled to take place in Amman on Monday, June 2, the Doha-based Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies will announce selected results from the most substantive and wide-ranging survey of Syrian refugees currently available. The findings to be reported come from interviews with more than 4,000 Syrian refugees living in Lebanon, Turkey, and Jordan, as well as displaced Syrians living in camps on the Syrian-Turkish border (in territory controlled by the opposition). Survey questions cover a range of political, economic, and social issues. The results to be presented at the press conference will focus specifically on the respondents’ attitudes toward the Syrian presidential elections, which the regime has planned for Tuesday, June 3. The full results of the survey will provide the single most important, verifiable indicator of the attitudes Syrian citizens hold toward the presidential elections and Bashar al-Assad in general.

In preliminary remarks preceding a formal announcement, Dr. Mohammad Almasri, coordinator of the Arab Opinion Index Program at the ACRPS, noted: “Despite the fact that we have carried out 40 separate opinion surveys over the past three years, in some cases during episodes of political turbulence and a lack of stability, this specific survey presented some methodological and academic challenges. There are a number of reasons for this, including the geographic spread of the refugees and refugee camps, the diverse conditions under which the refugees live, and the variety of legal situations in each of the separate host countries. This was particularly true for refugees living in camps.”

The nature, scale, and geographic coverage of this survey are unprecedented. As Dr. Almasri also pointed out, the survey itself covered most Syrian refugee population centers—whether in formally recognized refugee camps or not—and recorded their original places of residence in their country. These facts not only make the poll representative of the Syrian refugee population, but also demonstrate the poll’s value in representing the Syrian population more broadly.

The sampling method deployed by the ACRPS ensures an equal probability of representation for each individual Syrian refugee that was included in the sample; this was achieved through a randomized, stratified, multi-staged, self-weighted clustered sampling process. To accomplish this, the relative size of each refugee camp’s population in comparison to the total population of Syrian refugees within the relevant host country was taken into account, and the selection of households and individual respondents within the camps was completely randomized. The ACRPS team chose 400 experienced fieldworkers to then poll the respondents in the four separate countries.

The topics addressed in the questions covered the refugee respondents’ social and economic circumstances, their living conditions in the host countries, their priorities, and the measures they would like to see taken to improve their living conditions. The survey also sought to determine the factors that drove the respondents’ from their home country and understand their political positions with regards to the Syrian revolution, the Syrian regime, the opposition, and their respective policies.

Notably, the survey included a number of questions related to the respondents’ attitudes toward democracy and the type of future state they want to prevail in Syria. These questions also sought to determine the respondents’ priorities for the awaited aftermath of the present crisis. Finally, respondents were asked to indicate their opinions of the roles played by a number of regional and global actors influencing Syrian affairs.

 

Journalists with queries about the press conference or the Arab Opinion Index more generally should contact the coordinator of the Arab Opinion Index Program: +974 3343 9219.

To read a fuller report on the findings of the Arab Opinion Index team, issed on June 3, please click here.

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