July 2009 Poll: Government Performance, Elections and Fateh's Sixth Congress

A recent poll conducted by the Arab World for Research and Development (AWRAD) found that Palestinians have greater satisfaction with the West Bank government than with the Gaza government and public opinion is divided over the newly appointed government in the West Bank. The poll also assessed the popularity of candidates in two-way elections.

08.07.09

AWRAD carried out an opinion poll of 1,200 Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The sample selection and distribution followed a stratified probability sampling methodology with proportional representation of all socio-economic variables. Data collection took place during mid-June, 2009.

AWRAD‘s New Poll: Highlights
 
  • Satisfaction with Salam Fayyad’s government is higher than that with Ismail Haniyeh‘s
  • Palestinians divided on the composition of the newly appointed government in the West Bank; dissatisfaction among Gaza respondents is higher than West Bank respondents
  • Mahmoud Abbas, Marwan Barghouthi and Mustafa Barghouthi win over Ismail Haniyeh
  • In a proportional election system, Fateh wins a majority, Hamas gets less than one-third of the vote
  • Palestinians support convening the Sixth Fateh Congress inside the Palestinian Territories four times more than outside
  • Improving health services and creating jobs are the top priorities among Palestinians
  • For their candidate, Palestinians are looking for the education, competence and ethics
     
Analysis of Results

1. Greater satisfaction with the West Bank Government than with the Gaza Government
  • A larger percentage of West Bank respondents evaluate the performance of the Fayyad government more positively when compared with the evaluation of Gaza respondents of the Haniyeh government.
  • About 47 percent of West Bank respondents said that the performance of the Fayyad government is excellent or good, while 35 percent of the Gaza respondents felt the same way about the Haniyeh government.
  • In contrast, 25 percent of West Bank respondents are dissatisfied with the performance of the Fayyad government, while 33 percent of Gaza respondents are dissatisfied with the performance of the Haniyeh government.
  • At the same time, 38 percent of the West Bank respondents say that they have not seen any improvement in government services, as compared with 48 percent among Gaza respondents.
  • A majority (58 percent) of West Bank respondents say that they have seen improvement in government services, while 49 percent of Gaza respondents feel the same way.
     
Dr. Nader Said, AWRAD‘s President, attributes the higher rates in the West Bank to the ability of Fayyad‘s government to provide services and improve the institutional performance government service providers. Of course, international support is pivotal to this relative success. In Gaza, however, it is surprising to find that almost 50 percent find that the services are improving given the continuation of the closure. Some of these services are also supported by the government in the West Bank, where tens of thousands of civil servants are being supported by this government.

2. Division over the newly appointed government in the West Bank
  • One-third of the respondents evaluate the composition of the newly appointed government led by Salam Fayyad as excellent or good. In addition, 26 percent evaluate it as average. In contrast, 31 percent evaluate its compositions as weak or very weak.
  • Dissatisfaction with the new composition is higher in Gaza than the West Bank. About 37 percent of West Bank respondents say that the composition is excellent or good, compared with 27 percent among Gaza respondents.
  • In contrast, 27 percent of West Bank respondents say that the composition of the new government is weak or very weak, compared with 37 percent among Gaza respondents.
  • The new government has 5 women ministers out of 23 ministers. A majority (56 percent) feels that the representation of women in the new ministerial cabinet is appropriate. In contrast, about 19 percent feel that there are too many women in the cabinet. In comparison, 14 percent feel that the current number is insufficient.
Dr. Said believes that the Gaza–West Bank division on this issue is indicative of may other symptoms of the division between the two regions. It is however, interesting to assess how Gazans feel about their representation in the new government.

3. Two-way election races

The poll sought to assess the popularity of each candidate and his electability. Popularity is measured through taking into consideration the full sample including those who intend to vote and those who are either undecided or will not vote. Electability is measured through the percentage among those who will vote. In addition, AWRAD‘s past experience indicates that the margin of error (3percent) must be added to the Hamas list and its candidates, and therefore subtracted from the Fateh list and its candidates. Dr. Said believes that the results of these elections will depend on how the independents and the undecided vote, where a very large percentage reaching about 50 percent under some scenarios belong to that category. Their vote will swing according to political, economic and institutional developments as they relate to the performance of the different parties.
  • M. Abbas will win over I. Haniyeh in a two-way presidential election, where Abbas might receive 56 percent and Haniyeh 44 percent. Abbas wins without difficulty in the West Bank (61 percent) while both candidates will run head to head in Gaza. Under such scenario, a large percentage of Palestinians will not participate or are still undecided (40.6 percent).
  • Marwan B. wins with ease over Haniyeh, with 67 percent of the vote going to Barghouthi and 33 percent to Haniyeh. Marwan would win in both the West Bank and Gaza. A scenario including Marwan will attract the most participation in the election, with less than 30 percent undecided or will not vote.

  West Bank Gaza Total
Abbas 61% 51% 56%
Haniyeh 39%
49%
46%
Marwan B. 73% 57% 67%
Haniyeh 27% 43% 33%

  • Mustafa Barghouthi also wins over Haniyeh (56 to 44 percent). Barghouthi wins in both the West Bank and Gaza.
  • Haniyeh competes head to head with Salam Fayyad, Sae‘b Erikat and Ahamad Saa‘dat.
  • Haniyeh wins over Mohamed Dahlan (59 percent to 41 percent). This scenario will attract the least participation in the election, where over 47 percent said that they will not participate or are undecided.
     
4. Legislative Elections

In case of a legislative election based on a full national proportional system, Fateh might win a majority vote.
 
  • The poll shows that Fateh might receive 51 percent of the vote, while Hamas might receive 30 percent.
  • Fateh wins over Hamas in Gaza (50 percent to 40 percent), and in the West Bank (54 percent to 23 percent).
  • Al Mubadara list and a PFLP list will receive around 5 percent each.
  • In the public opinion sample, over 31 percent will not vote or are undecided.
  • If a list comprised of a majority of competent women with representation of men ran for legislative elections, about 38 percent will be willing to consider voting for it. One-third might consider voting for such list. In contrast, one-quarter of the respondents refuse to consider such a list.
     
5. Expectations from Candidates

Palestinians were asked to assess the importance of the following characteristics in their evaluation of a candidate for the elections.
  • Educational attainment came as number one priority (28 percent).
  • The personal reputation and ethics of the candidate came as number two priorities in making a decision about a candidate (15 percent).
  • It was interesting to find out that the first most important characteristics for 11 percent was the candidate‘s willingness to recognize that the PLO as the representative of the Palestinians.
  • Professional competence was a priority number four (with 10 percent), followed by the candidate‘s ability to bring about real change (8 percent).
  • Being religious came in at number six.
  • Participation in the national struggle and religion followed with each at 4 percent.
Dr. Said articulates that care for religiosity is mostly connected to ethics rather than political religion, as only 0.6 percent of the respondents said that a candidate must come from a religious political party, placing this characteristics the lowest priority in a list of eighteen. Dr. Said warns that while people tend to express their views on this issue from an idealistic and politically correct standpoint, they might place more priority on characteristics that are closer to them on the day of the election, where familial and regional politics will increasingly have priority.

6. Fateh‘s Sixth Congress
  • About 27 percent of the respondents say that they are following the news on the upcoming Fateh Congress. Another 29 percent say that they follow the news but partially. In contrast, 40 percent do not follow up the news of the Congress.
  • About 46 percent of the Gaza respondents say that they do not follow the news o f the Congress, compared with 37 percent among West Bank respondents.
  • The largest group of respondents (46 percent) says that they support convening the Congress in the Palestinian Territories.
  • About one-third (34 percent) see no difference in where the Congress is convened (inside or outside).
  • Only 12 percent support that the Congress is convened outside of Palestine.
  • Among Fateh supporters, 61 percent support convening the Congress inside the Palestinian territories, while 25 percent support its’ convening outside. Only 12 percent feel that there is no difference.
  • Among Hamas supporters, 44 percent support that it is convened outside of Palestine, and 31 percent support that it is convened inside.
     
7. Needs and Priorities
Palestinians were asked to assess the importance of a long list of needs in their lives.
  • Improving the health services ranked priority number one (26 percent), followed by creating jobs (21 percent). The improvement of the schools and the security situation, each received about 11 percent. Another related priority is related to the improvement of the economic climate to encourage investment at 10 percent. The sixth most important priority is to bring about more social cohesion and harmony especially at the local level.
  • According to Dr. Said, these priorities fall within two categories: one that is related to social services (including health and education), and another that is related to economic development and job creation, that could be achieved only if the security situation is stable.
     

The full poll is available here.