August 2009 Poll conducted by PSR

Popularity of Abbas and Fateh increases and the popularity of Haniyeh and Hamas decreases; perception of personal and family security and safety increases and perception of corruption in PA institutions decreases. However, the Palestinian public remains pessimistic about the future of reconciliation.

17.08.09


These are the results of the latest poll conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR) in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip between 13 and 15 August 2009. The poll was conducted in the aftermath of the holding of Fateh’s Sixth Congress in Bethlehem and Hamas’s refusal to allow Fateh members to leave the Gaza Strip to participate in the Congress. Total size of the sample is 1270 adults interviewed face to face in 127 randomly selected locations. Margin of error is 3%. This press release covers domestic Palestinian issues; issues related to the peace process and Israeli-Palestinian relations will be covered in a separate joint Palestinian-Israeli press release. For further details, contact PSR director, Dr. Khalil Shikaki, or Walid Ladadweh at tel 02-296 4933 or email pcpsr@pcpsr.org.

Main Findings:
Findings of the third quarter of 2009 show an increase in the popularity of Fateh and president Mahmud Abbas and a decline in the popularity of Hamas and Ismail Haniyeh, the dismissed prime minister. The rise in the popularity of Fateh and Abbas might in part be the result of Fateh’s success in holding its long awaited Sixth Congress and electing a new leadership. The decline in support for Hamas might in part be the result of its refusal to allow Fateh members in the Gaza Strip to travel to Bethlehem to participate in Fateh’s Sixth Congress. Findings show additional and perhaps deeper reasons for the change in the balance of power between Fateh and Hamas. For example, they show considerable improvement in public perception of personal and family security and safety in the West Bank and a noticeable decrease in the public perception of the existence of corruption in PA institutions under Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. In this context, findings show some optimism about the future of Fateh in the aftermath of its Sixth Congress and about the ability of its newly elected leadership to fight corruption inside the movement and to deliver reconciliation with Hamas. But the public does not believe that the new leadership will be different from the previous one in its ability to work to end the Israeli occupation.

Findings also show public confusion regarding new presidential and parliamentary elections. A majority believes that reconciliation talks between Fateh and Hamas will fail. A majority also believes that PA president and parliament will lose their legitimacy next January when their terms end. Nonetheless, a wide majority opposes postponing the elections and a majority also opposes holding elections under the current status quo, with Haniyeh’s government supervising it in the Gaza Strip and Fayyad’s government supervising it in the West Bank, even if they were organized by a single unified election commission. Moreover, an overwhelming majority opposes holding separate elections in either the Gaza Strip, organized by the Haniyeh government, or in the West Bank, organized by the Fayyad government. In any case, findings show that the public has no confidence in the ability of the legislative and presidential elections to contribute to the re-unification of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. An overwhelming majority believes that the two sides, Fateh and Hamas, or one of them, will reject the results of any new fair and free elections if those results were not in its favor.

Finally, despite the improvement in the perception of personal and family security and safety, particularly in the West Bank, a majority of those who have been attacked or robbed during the past year says they have not complained to the police either because they do not trust it or because it can do nothing useful for them. Worse yet, the overwhelming majority of those who did submit a complaint to the police says they are not satisfied with the police performance. Findings show that lack of trust with the police increases in the Gaza Strip compared to the West Bank, but dissatisfaction with the performance of the police is similar to that in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

• Increase in the percentage of those who would vote for Mahmud Abbas as president of the PA from 49% three months ago to 52% in this poll and a decrease in the vote for Ismail Haniyeh from 44% to 38%. 9% remain undecided in this poll and only 60% say they would participate in those elections. However, if the competition was between Marwan Barghouti and Ismail Haniyeh, the former would receive 62% of the vote and the latter 31%. 7% remain undecided and rate of participation increases to 71%.

• Increase in the percentage of those who would vote for Fateh from 41% three months ago to 44% in this poll and a decrease in the percentage of those who would vote for Hamas from 33% to 28% during the same period. Vote for all other electoral lists reaches 11% and 17% remain undecided. Rate of election participation stands at 68%.

• Most popular figures selected by the public as possible vice president are Marwan Barghouti (selected by 37% of the public), Ismail Haniyeh (21%), Mustafa Barghouti (9%), Salam Fayyad (7%), and Saeb Erekat (4%).

• Significant improvement in public perception of personal and family safety and security in the West Bank, standing today at 58% compared to 43% one year ago, 35% two years ago, and 25% four years ago (just few months before the last parliamentary elections in January 2006). Findings also show some improvement in the perception of personal and family safety and security in the Gaza Strip, standing today at 63% compared to 54% one year ago, 49% two years ago, and 55% four years ago (immediately after the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and few months before the last parliamentary elections).

• Continued decline in the perception that corruption exists in PA institutions under the control of Abbas and Fayyad, standing today at 68% compared to 72% one year ago, 80% two years ago, and 87% four years ago (few months before the last parliamentary elections).

• In the aftermath of Fateh’s Sixth Congress, 39% say Fateh will become stronger and more unified in the future and 22% say it will become weaker and more fragmented and 34% say it will remain unchanged. 40% say the newly elected Fateh leadership will be more able than the previous leadership in achieving reconciliation with Hamas and 22% say it will be less able to do so. Similarly, 43% say the new leadership will be more able than the pervious one to fight corruption within Fateh while 21% thinks the opposite. But only 27% say the new leadership will be more able to work toward ending occupation and 28% say it will be less able than the pervious leadership.