The survey we refer to here is small-scale, covering 16 villages across seven VDCs – a total of 256 voters. We simply went along the “campaign trail” visiting two to three villages in each VDC and asked the voters, among other things, whether they knew of any difference between the two major parties (at that time, back in 2002-03), NC and UML. “What is the difference between NC and the UML?”
The main result was that even though we always gave the respondent voters more time to think, asking if they could tell us any difference, ideological or otherwise, a total of 74 percent had no idea. Many of the voters added that they hadn’t thought much about it either. A common answer was that being poor and less educated, they wouldn’t know about such complex political issues anyway.
The result of the survey was in more detail as follows: 74 percent didn’t know of any difference between NC and UML, if they knew about the two parties at all. 14 percent knew there was a difference, but felt that the two parties were in practice the same – doing the same things. 7 percent could tell us about an ideological difference, another 2 percent said one party was more corrupt than the other, and another 3 percent felt that one had provided more development than the other. Finally, 3 percent mentioned other differences.
Was it true that the poor and less educated would know less about the difference between NC and UML? Sure it was, as might be expected. In fact, among the illiterate respondent voters 81 didn’t know any difference or were unaware of the parties whatsoever, as opposed to only 39 percent among the most educated (who had passed 10th grade). In the same way, those with the lowest household income were the least aware of NC-UML differences with 79 percent, while those with the highest income were the most aware with 57 percent. Add to that a difference by sex: almost no women knew of a difference, as opposed to around one third of the men.
Check out the results in detail below. Of course, this survey is by no means representative, even of the VDCs we visited, in statistical terms. But go to any VDC and you’ll likely record very similar comments and results.