A large majority of people believe provincial administration organisation (PAO) chairmen should be independent and not affiliated with a political party or political group, according to an opinion survey by the National Institute of Development Administration, or Nida Poll.

The poll was conducted on Oct 14-15 on 1,329 people aged 18 and over, of various occupations and levels of education, throughout the country following the cabinet approval of the Election Commission (EC)’s proposal to hold elections for PAO chairmen and council members nationwide on Dec 20.

A large majority — 82.47% — of respondents said they would exercise their right to vote in the Dec 20 PAO election, 12.34% said they would not do so and 5.19% were still undecided.

Asked what would be a decisive factor in their choice of PAO chairman — with a respondent allowed to give more than one answer — 60.50% said they would base their decision on the candidate’s past work for the benefit of the local people and the local administration; 38.07% said they would consider the candidate’s administration and local development policies; 24.91% mentioned the candidate’s personal background; 22.80% said they would look at the candidate’s qualifications such as age, education and occupation; 8.58% said they would consider the political party or group the candidate belongs to; 4.97% said they would look into the candidate’s reputation; 2.86% would look at the candidate’s supporters; and 2.63% would consider the candidate’s personal relationships with other people such as parents, relatives and friends.

Asked about the political affiliation of a PAO chairman, with a respondent allowed to give more then one answer, a majority — 79.23% — said they wanted an independent PAO chairman; 28.37% wanted a PAO chief from a political party; 14.00% wanted a PAO chairman from a political group; and 0.53% did not answer. There was no explanation why some of the respondents apparently ticked boxes indicating that the PAO chairman should be both independent and from a political party.

Asked whether they wanted the current PAO chiefs in their provinces replaced, 44.77% said “yes”; 43.19% said “no”; and 12.04% were undecided.

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