Perception about Political response to COVID 19- An Online Survey
The second wave of COVID 19 has caused a massive health crisis. The overburdened healthcare system, caused by an acute shortage of oxygen and rising cases has left the healthcare system exposed. The aftermath of these events would certainly impact an average citizen's views on the current political environment of India. It could also impact future elections.
To understand this further, ISD (Indian School of Democracy) conducted an online survey of 755 Indian respondents across 25 states, in order to understand the nuances behind an Indian citizen’s perception of the political response to COVID 19. The survey was conducted through ISD’s social media platforms, via Google forms.
Out of the 755 respondents, 442 were male, 285 were female and 28 preferred to not disclose their identity. Moreover, 664 were from urban areas, 84 were from rural areas and 7 were from tribal areas. The survey was conducted between 22nd May to 31st May, 2021. At the time of conducting this survey, India had crossed over 3 lakh deaths. For the entire duration of the survey 1.9 million fresh cases were recorded and the daily test positivity rate was 13.4%.
Since March 2020, social media platforms and NGOs, have become helplines for the general public to access verified information about oxygen cylinders, hospital beds, and other COVID-19 resources. This has been resourceful help since 77.8 percent of respondents reported that either they or someone in their immediate contact got infected with COVID-19.
Respondents were asked to select all the entities that they found to be the most useful during the COVID 19 crisis:
Non-Governmental Organizations and individuals: 88%
Ward councillor: 13%
Political party workers: 10.7%
Additionally, 60 percent of the respondents felt that both the politicians and bureaucracy were responsible for the mismanagement of the COVID 19 crisis. 94 percent of the respondents felt that a better healthcare system should be a top priority in all the upcoming elections. 96 percent of the respondents felt that elected representatives should be held accountable in such situations.
Respondents also expressed their views on their voting preferences for future elections. The tables below give the residential area and gender distribution of the respondents voting preferences:
17 percent of urban respondents and 12 percent of rural respondents will vote for their current representative in national elections. In contrast, 29 percent of urban and rural respondents will vote for their current representative in state elections. It seems that the respondents were more dissatisfied with the central government's response than the state government's response.
94 percent of our respondents felt that campaigns, rallies and protests all contributed to the spread of the virus. At the end of February 2021, India's election authorities announced key elections in five states. 186 million people were eligible to vote. Beginning 27 March, campaigns had begun, with no safety protocols and social distancing. Senior leaders from all the parties were seen to be flouting the COVID appropriate behavior in rallies and roadshows. Additionally, despite growing COVID 19 cases, protestors did not halt ongoing protests on the farmers’ bill.
Due to these political events that acted as a catalyst for the spread of the virus, many respondents expressed dissatisfaction with the central and state government’s response to COVID 19 and wouldn't vote for them in the upcoming elections.
Central Government: 90%
State Government: 74%
14 percent of the respondents will vote for their current representative at the legislative assembly but still expressed dissatisfaction with their COVID 19 response.
The results of the survey indicate the importance of good governance. While health might be a citizen’s current priority, it will be interesting to see if this factor continues to be reflected in future voting preferences. Through the survey, it is evident that politicians could consider rethinking their strategies and incorporate principles of compassion in their future political decisions and campaigns.