CPRS Polls - Survey Research Unit
Palestinian Elections
Election-Day Survey, 20 January 1996
As part of CPRS's work on issues related to the first Palestinian elections, the SRU conducted an Election-Day Survey on 20th January 1996. The project aimed at understanding Palestinian electoral behavior in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, by obtaining information regarding voters' political attitudes, demographic characteristics and criteria for selecting candidates. Although the study did not attempt to predict the elections results before they were announced officially, it was possible to anticipate the results with great accuracy from information available in the poll in each district (see Appendix No.1). Noteworthy, a data base of the poll results is available at CPRS which can be obtained and used by researchers. (For more information regarding the main results see Appendix No. 2).

Table of Contents


Highly trained and specialized experts, of the Survey Research Unit (SRU), conduct regular public opinion polls on Palestinian socio-political attitudes on the peace process, regional economic cooperation, political affiliation and elections, and future outlooks. SRU's team of fieldworkers is trained by Unit members and outside experts in survey method workshops and on-going training seminars. (Results and analyses of all surveys are published in Arabic and English.) SRU makes available all results and provides cross-tabulations of survey and poll data upon request. SRU polls offers a vital resource for community members and researchers needing current and accurate statistical information. The monthly polls also serve to foster public participation in issues of national concern and represent avenues through which Palestinians can seek to influence public policy.

CPRS would like to seize this opportunity to sincerely thank all fieldworkers whose work has led to the success of this study, as well as the International Republican Institute which provided the Center with technical and financial support. The Center would also like to express its gratitude to the Central Elections Committee for the facilities provided to the fieldworkers to expedite their work.

Palestinian Elections

The first Palestinian elections took place in the West Bank and Gaza Strip on 20 January 1996 for selecting the PNA president and 88 members to the legislative council. For the elections, the West Bank was divided into 11 electoral districts and Gaza Strip into 5 districts. A simple majority system was used in these elections. Candidates, Yasser Arafat and Samiha Khalil, ran for the office of the presidency. The candidates who ran in the elections for the legislative council numbered 676. Some of political parties, namely Hamas, Islamic Jihad and both PFLP and DFLP called for an election boycott. The Central Elections Commission reported that the proportion of registered voters exceeded 88% of eligible voters. According to CEC, over 73% of registered voters in the West Bank participated in the elections, while in Gaza Strip it exceeded 88%.


Measures were taken by CPRS to insure confidentiality and to eliminate possible fears among voters outside the designated polling stations. In order to secure confidentiality, special ballot boxes were set up for this purpose. SRU's team of approximately 400 fieldworkers, however, were permitted to stand close to each station to administer exit polls in each electoral district. The team was well trained through extensive workshops, whereby survey research methods were discussed and poll questions were illustrated. The team was also advised in dealing with voters and handling potential problems that may occur along with ways of solving them. Two fieldworkers (one male and one female) were distributed at 148 polling stations throughout the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The questionnaire was designed and formulated in consultation with local and international experts, and pre-tested locally to minimize confusion regarding question wording and placement in the survey.

Sample Selection

In this study the sample selected is self-weighted. The probability of selecting any polling location was proportionate to the number of registered voters. The sample was selected as follows:

1)The primary sampling unit used in this study is polling location. SRU had to
distinguish between polling location and polling station because some polling
locations contained more than one polling station.

2)A sample of 148 polling locations was selected and was distributed ofn the
electoral districts, according to the expected variance in each, is as follows:

Electoral District Number of Voting Locations Sampled Electoral District Number of Voting Locations Sampled
Gaza North
Gaza Middle
Gaza City
Total 148

3) Based on previous surveys, SRU assumed that the percentage of turnout to
be 75%. It was also assumed that the percentage of turnout is constant within
each district.

Based on the available number of computers and the number of people doing data entry, SRU decided to complete a total of 3200 questionnaires. In order to obtain reliable results at the district level, SRU distributed the 3200 questionnaires equally to the 16 electoral districts. Henceforth, 200 questionnaires were allocated to each district.

Analysis of the Margin

Two types of error can be found on a survey of this nature: sampling error and non-response. There were two sampling stages with potential errors in each: the selection of polling locations and the random selection of voters. Our analysis indicate that the margin of error in the first stage was higher than that in the second. Despite the fact that we only obtained 2770 valid questionnaires out of 3200 distributed, the number of non-responses did not have a significant impact on the margin of error. Potentially, the most serious problem would have been the inability to conduct interviews in some of the selected locations. That, however, happened only in one occasion when our fieldworkers were prevented by the Israeli police from gaining access to one location in Jerusalem. We were able however, to select another location in the same district. We believe this change had little, if any, impact on the margin of error. The total sample's margin of error did not exceed 3%.


Demographic Characteristics of Voters

More men than women voted with 57% of voters being meand 43% of voters being women. In refugee camps, participation was more equal among men and women, 54% and 46% respectively. As for cities, participation was 57% for men and 43% for women, while in villages not more than 40% of women voted. A discrepancy was apparent between men and women in regard to educational attainment. Thirty four percent of women with less than a elementary education level voted, in comparison with 25% of men with the same level of education. More women participated than men in the age category of 18-25 years. Overall, the majority of voters were of young age (18-25 years old) as 59% of all voters were not more than 33 years old.

Regarding family income, a great majority of voters (82%) declared that their family monthly income does not exceed 400 JD, while only 3% declared 1000 JD or higher. The percentage of those whose monthly income do not exceed 200 JD was high in Gaza Strip refugee camps (62%), compared with 49% in cities and villages. In comparison with results of survey conducted by CPRS in 1995, there was no evident variation between participants' income and the general distribution of income in the total population.

In the sample, there is little variation between the West Bank and Gaza Strip in terms of percentages in educational levels; 79% of the participants attained a secondary degree or less, while the remaining 21% reached college or university levels of education (see Table No.1).

Table No. 1: Demographic Distribution of Voters
Total % of Voters West BankGaza Strip Cities Villages R. Camps
Gender Men 57%56.3% 58.4%57% 58%54%
Women 43%43.7% 41.6%43% 42%46%
EducationElementary 29%32.3% 23.0%27% 32%23%
Preparatory 21%22.2% 20.0%20% 22%21%
Secondary 29%26.8% 31.0%27% 28%23%
College 8%7.8% 8.5%9% 8%8%
University 13%10.9% 17.4%17% 10%15%
Age18-25 33%30.6% 26.1%32% 32%36%
26-33 26%24.3% 29.9%27% 25%29%
34-41 15%15.9% 12.2%14% 16%14%
42-49 8%8.3% 8.6%9% 8%8%
50-57 9%9.3% 7.1%10% 8%6%
Over 57 10%11.5% 6.1%7% 12%7%
Monthly200 or less 50%46.5% 58.0%49% 48%62%
Income 200-400 32%33.2% 30.5%35% 32%30%
in JD400-600 9%9.9% 6.9%8% 11%5%
600-800 3%3.2% 2.5%4% 3%1%
800-1000 3%3.6% 1.3%2% 4%1%
More than 1000 3%3.6% 0.8%3% 3%---

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