Peace Polls

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What is a peace poll?

Public opinion polls are most commonly used to analyse the electoral fortunes of political parties, their leaders and policies, frequently with a view to advancing their own interests and agendas. But in Northern Ireland, public opinion polls were used as a tool to enhance the peace process by increasing party inclusiveness, developing issues and language, testing agreement proposals, helping to set deadlines and add to the overall transparency of negotiations through the publication of technical analysis and media reports. These methods have successfully been replicated elsewhere, and it is now possible to say what the most important characteristics of a peace poll are:

  1. All the parties to a conflict should draft and agree all the questions.
  2. All the communities and peoples to the conflict should be asked all the questions.
  3. All the results should be made public.

Timing and publication of the polls should also be managed to coincide with the critical decision making events in the negotiations.