On the Election Day for the Second Palestinian Parliament:
A Crumpling Peace Process and a Greater Public Complaint of Corruption and Chaos Gave Hamas a limited Advantage Over Fateh, but Fragmentation within Fateh Turned that Advantage into an Overwhelming Victory
for Policy and Survey Research (PSR) conducted an exit poll on the day of the second Palestinian legislative elections on Palestinian Center 25 January 2006. The poll aimed at predicting the outcome of the elections as well as understanding voters’ behavior. For the purpose of prediction, 17574 interviews were conducted and for studying electoral behavior, 1694 interviews were conducted. Interviews were conducted in 242 election centers from a total of 1014 centers. The centers were carefully selected to reflect the distribution of the electoral districts as well as the place of residence (city, refugee camp, and village). The sample was later re-weighted to reflect the actual electoral weight of the districts and places of residence.
PSR published the results of the exit poll after the closing of the election centers. Our results gave the advantage to Fateh (42% compared to 35% for Hamas). The actual results showed Hamas gaining the advantage with 44% versus Fateh’s 41%. In a previous statement, PSR expressed the believe that the error in the prediction was the result of the large number of rejections on the day of elections. A total of 3560, or 17%, of the voters in the sample, refused to be interviewed on the day of election. The rejection, PSR believes was the result of deliberate incitement against pollsters . In order to overcome the problem, we have re-weighted the data to reflect the actual outcome of the elections for the lists in the districts and at the national level. The following results and analysis are based on the re-weighted data which reflect the actual outcome of the elections with the advantage going to Hamas rather than Fateh.
Table of Contents:
List of Tables:
- Voting Outcome Based on Area, District, and Place of Residence
- Voting Outcome Based on Selected Demographic Factors
- Voting Outcome Based on Level of Religiosity
- Voting Outcome Based on Political Sympathies
- Voting Outcome Based on Self Identification Regarding the Peace Process
- Voting Outcome Based on Position on Various Issues of the Peace Process
- Voting Outcome Based on Feelings of Safety and Security
- Voting and Optimism and Pessimism
List of Charts:
- Voters’ Views Regarding the Role of Selected Political Institutions in Making Vital Palestinian Decisions
- Comparison between the Views of the Votes on the Day of the Presidential Elections (in January 2005) and the Views of the Voters on the Day of the PLC Elections (in January 2006) Regarding the Role of Selected PA and PLO Institution in Making Vital Decisions
- Voters’ Preference for the Next Prime Minister
The results of the exit poll clearly show that Hamas’ victory in the legislative elections was due to three factors:
(1) The peace process is no longer at the top of people’s priorities: Findings show that only a small minority of voters considered the peace process to be a top Palestinian priority. Voters saw the peace process deadlocked with little or no chance for revitalization. The only sign of hope was the Israeli unilateral disengagement, as reflected in the dismantlement of all settlements in the Gaza Strip and few in the
West Bank, a step the public viewed as victory for armed struggle and gave Hamas most of the credit for. A negotiated peace process was the centerpiece of Fateh’s national agenda; therefore, the collapse of diplomacy dealt a heavy blow to the national movement. Despite the widespread belief among voters that Fateh is the most able to reach a peace agreement with , the retreat in the status of the peace process in their hierarchy of priorities translated into a big loss for Fateh. This outcome should not however be interpreted as indicating a decline in the level of support for Israeli-Palestinian peace. Indeed, exit poll results clearly indicate that a clear majority of Fateh supporters as well as the combined voters of all other nationalist lists as well as one third of Hamas voters support the basic elements of the peace process such as the two state solution, the implementation of the Road Map, and the collection of arms from all armed militias and groups. Israel
(2) State-building failures: findings depict a widespread voter disillusionment with PA governance particularly in areas of fighting corruption and enforcing law and order. These two issues were the top priorities for the public. Moreover, voters have lost confidence in the ability of Fateh to lead state building in these two areas. The success of Hams in elevating the status of corruption and lawlessness to top priorities constituted a magnificent achievement insuring its victory in the elections.
(3) But Hamas’ success would have remained relatively small had it not been for Fateh’s widespread fragmentation in the electoral districts. In fact, Hamas in did not succeed in winning the support of the majority of the voters. To the contrary, the majority vote went to Fateh and other nationalist-secularist groups, which together won 56% of the popular vote versus Hamas’ 44%. The advantage Hamas had over Fateh remained limited to three percentage points, with Fateh receiving 41% of the popular vote. Fateh’s fragmentation, displayed clearly in the large number of “independent” Fateh candidates gave Hamas an overwhelming victory despite the fact that its candidates won the district vote by an average not exceeding 41% to Fateh’s 34% with Fateh’s “independents” and other candidates winning an average of 25% in the districts. What insured Hamas’ great victory in the electoral districts was the fact that for each Hamas candidate there were 6 opposing candidates leading to a significant waste of the nationalist vote. Has Fateh been able to maintain a decent level of cohesion and discipline, for example by convincing its “independent” candidates to stop their futile race, its average district vote would have risen to 39% which would have increased its total district seats by 16 more seats to a total of 33.
- The competition between Fateh and Hamas is more intense in the
West Bankwhere the two are equally strong, but Hamas is stronger in the Gaza Strip.
- Competition between Fateh and Hamas is tough in refugee camps but Hamas has the advantage in cities and Fateh has the advantage in rural areas. The combined strength of all other lists is greater in refugee camps and weaker in rural areas.
Hamas receives higher support in the Gaza Strip compared to the
West Bank(48% vs. 41%)
Fateh receives approximately the same levels of support in the
West Bankand the Gaza Strip (43% vs. 42%)
Other lists receive considerably lower support in the Gaza Strip compared to the
West Bank(9% vs. 18%)
Hamas has the advantage over Fateh in eight districts:
, followed by Gaza City , Nablus , Jerusalem North Gaza, Tulkarm, , Ramallah, and Salfit Hebron
Fateh has the advantage over Hamas in the other eight districts: Qalqilia, followed by
, Rafah, Jericho , Jenin, Deir al Balah, Khanyounis, and Toubas Bethlehem
All the other lists combined didn’t have the advantage in any of the districts. The highest percentage of votes received was recorded in Ramallah, followed by Salfit,
, Toubas, Tulkarm, Bethlehem , Jerusalem , Jenin, Qalqilia, Jabalia, Jericho , Hebron , Rafah, Nablus , Khanyounis and Deir al Balah. Gaza City
Place of Residence
Hamas received greater support in cities (49%), and refugee camps (48%), and limited support in rural areas (36%)
Fateh received limited support in cities (37%), and greater support in Refugee camps (44%) and villages (46%)
Support for the other lists combined in cities reached (13%), going down to 8% in refugee camps and increasing to 18% in rural areas
- There are no major differences based on gender in the vote for Fateh and Hamas, but the other lists are strong among men compared to women.
- Support for Hamas increases among the old and the middle aged and decreases among the youth. By contrast, support for Fateh increases among the youth and decreases among the old and the middle aged. The other lists find the least support among the youth.
- The competition between Fateh and Hams is toughest among voters with high and medium levels of education where the two have equal strength. Hamas is stronger than Fateh among the illiterates.
- Hamas defeats Fateh among merchants, professionals and laborers and Fateh defeats Hamas among the unemployed. The competition is tough between the two sides over the vote of students and employees. The other lists find more support among merchants and less support among the unemployed.
- Competition is also tough among voters from the public sector where the two sides receive equal votes but Hamas defeats Fateh among those working in the private sector.
- There are no important differences in support for Fateh and Hamas based on levels of income.
Hamas received slightly more votes from women than men (44% vs. 42%)
Fateh too received slightly more votes from women than men (45% vs. 42%)
Other lists received less votes from women than men (12% vs. 16%)
Hamas received more votes from refugees than from non-refugees (46% vs. 42%)
Fateh received an equal percentage of vote form refugees and non-refugees (43% vs. 42%)
Other lists received less votes from refugees compared to non-refugees (11% vs. 16%)
Young: 18-33 years
Middle age: 34-47 years
Old: over 47 years
Support for Hamas increases among the old reaching 52% and decreases to 47% among the middle aged, and decreases further to 42% among the young
Support decreases considerably among the old (31%) and increases to 37% among the middle aged and increases further to 46% among the young
Support for other lists increases among the old and the middle aged (17%) and decreases among the young (13%)
Support for Hamas increases among the illiterates (50%), and drops to 43% among those with 6-12 years of education, and remains at the same level (44%) among those with two or more years of college education
Support for Fateh drops considerably among the illiterates (34%) and increases to 43% among those with 6-12 years of education, and remains at the same level (42%) among those with two or more years of college education
These are no important differences in support for the other lists based on educational attainment
Support for Hamas increases among merchants (49%), followed by housewives (47%), professionals (46%), laborers (45%), students (42%), and employees and the unemployed (41% each)
Support for Fateh decreases considerably among merchants (28%) and increases among professionals (36%), laborers (37%), housewives (42%), students and employees (44% each) and the unemployed (51%)
Support for the other lists increases among merchants (23%), laborers and professionals (18% each), students and employees (14% each), housewives (12% each) and the unemployed (9%)
Support for Hamas is greater among those working in the private sector than those working in the public sector (45% vs. 42%)
Support for Fateh is weaker among those working in the private sector compared to those working in the public sector (37% vs. 43%)
Support for the other lists is slightly greater among those working in the private sector compared to those working in the public sector (18% vs. 16%)
Support for Hamas increases among the married compared to the unmarried (46% vs. 41%)
Support for Fateh drops among the married compared to the unmarried (40% vs. 46%)
There are no important difference in support for other lists based on marital status
Support for Hamas among Palestinian Muslims is naturally higher than among Palestinian Christians (45% vs. 5%)
Support fro Fateh among Palestinian Muslims is higher than among Christians (42% vs. 31%)
Support for the other lists drops among Muslims compared to Christians (13% vs. 46%)
Low Income: less than
High Income: more than
Support for Hamas increases among low income voters (46%) and decreases among mid income voters (44%) and decreases further among high income voters (40%)
There are no important differences in support for Fateh based on income levels
Support for other lists drops among low income voters (12%) and increase among mid income voters (15%) and high income voters (17%)
Religiosity has been measured by asking voters to identify whether they see themselves as “religious”, “somewhat religious” or “not religious”. A second question asked about voters’ readiness to purchase a lottery ticket if possible. The findings clearly show that Hamas’s voters are more religious than Fateh’s and that Fateh’s strength resides mostly among those who identify themselves as “somewhat religious” or “not religious.” Similarly, Hamas wins the vote of most of those who refuse to purchase a lottery ticket and receives little support from those who are willing to purchase a ticket. Support for Fateh goes in the opposite direction: it increases among those willing to purchase a ticket and decreases considerably among those unwilling to purchase one. Support for the other lists decreases considerably among those refusing to purchase a lottery ticket and increases among those willing to buy one.
Religiosity based on self identification: “religious”, “somewhat religious”, and “not religious”
Support for Hamas increases among “religious” voters (52%) and decreases among the “somewhat religious” (38%) and among the “not religious” (19%)
Support for Fateh decreases among “religious” voters (40%), and increases among the “somewhat religious” (44%) and among the “not religious” (49%)
Support for the other lists decreases among “religious” voters (8%) and increases among the “somewhat religious” voters (19%) and among the “not religious” (32%)
Position on Lottery
Support for Hamas increases among those voters most opposed to buying lottery tickets and decreases considerably among those most willing to buy lottery tickets (63% vs. 20%)
Support for Fateh drops considerably among those voters most opposed to buying lottery tickets and increases among those most willing to buy lottery tickets (28% vs. 62%)
Support for other lists decreases considerably among those voters most opposed to buying lottery tickets and increases among those most willing to buy lottery tickets (9% vs. 18%)
When we combine the two religiosity questions, the picture becomes clearer: support for Hamas increases dramatically among those who identify themselves as “religious” and refusing to purchase a lottery ticket; it increases a little among the “somewhat religious” who also refuse to purchase a ticket. By contrast, support for Fateh remains relatively high among all voters willing to purchase a ticket regardless of how religious they are. Voters of the other lists show the same tendency as Hamas’ but in the opposite direction. Other lists are stronger in particular among the “not religious” and the “somewhat religious” who are willing to purchase a lottery ticket.
Findings show that Hamas received the vote of the overwhelming majority of those sympathetic to that movement as well as those sympathizing with Islamic Jihad and those who identify themselves as “independent Islamists.” Hamas received a little over one third of the vote of those identifying themselves as “independent nationalists.” Fateh received the vote of those sympathizing with it as will a about one fifth of those identifying themselves as “independent nationalists.” Other lists received the support of those sympathizing with the PFLP, People’s Party, DFLP, al Mubadara al Wataniyya, and those identifying themselves as “independent nationalists.”
Support for Hamas comes essentially from four groups of sympathizers: Hamas (93%), Islamic Jihad (73%), Independent Islamists (72%) and Independent Nationalists (35%)
Support for Fateh comes essentially form two groups of sympathizers: Fateh (88%) and Independent Nationalists (21%)
Support for other lists comes essentially from those sympathizing with the PFLP, People’s Party, DFLP, al Mubadara al Wataniyya, and Independent Nationalists
Five variables were used to measure views on the peace process: how voters identify themselves (supporter, opponents, and neither supporter nor opponent), the place of the peace process in voters’ hierarchy of priorities, collection of arms from armed groups, implementation of the Road Map, and recognition of the state of Israel as a Jewish state within the context of a two-state solution. Findings show that Fateh’s strength lies with those who support the peace process while Hamas’ lies with those opposed to it and among those who are uncertain about where they stand on the peace process. Other lists are popular among all three groups although it is stronger among those who support the peace process and the uncertain. Findings also show that 69% of those who place the peace process at the top of their priorities voted for Fateh while only 19% voted for Hamas. But findings show that only 9% placed the peace process at the top of the list of priorities which, needless to say, explains the devastating blow Fateh received on election day.
Position of the peace process based on self identification:
“Support”, “oppose”, “neither support nor oppose”
Support for Hamas increases considerably among those opposed to the peace process (79%) and drops among those who neither support nor oppose the peace process (54%) and drops considerably among those who support the peace process (29%)
Support for Fateh drops considerably among those opposed to the peace process (9%) and increases among those who neither support nor oppose the peace process (31%) and increases further among those who support the peace process (56%)
Support for the other lists drops somewhat among those who oppose to the peace process (12%) and increases a little among those who neither support nor oppose and among those who support the peace process (15%)
Palestinian vote for Hamas on the day of elections should not however be interpreted as a vote against the peace process. About 60% of all voters identified themselves as supporters of the peace process while only 17% saw themselves as opposed to it and 23% saw themselves somewhere in the middle between opposition and support. Moreover, the vote does not mean that all those who voted for Hamas are opposed to the peace process. To the contrary, findings show that 40% of Hamas voters in fact support the peace process and only 30% oppose it. Moreover, abut one third of Hamas voters support collection of arms, the implementation of the Road Map, and the recognition of
as a Jewish state in a two-state context. Findings clearly show that a majority of Fateh and the combined voters of other lists support all there elements of the peace process (see table below). Israel
Supporters the peace process
Support collecting arms from armed factions
Support the implementation of the Road Map
Support mutual recognition of
as a Jewish State and Israel as a Palestinian state in a two-state context Palestine
Findings clearly show that what damaged Fateh’s electoral chances was the decision by a large percentage of voters (25%) to make the ability of the list or faction to fight corruption the most important consideration when voting for the various lists. What made things worse for Fateh was the belief of an additional large percentage of voters (37%) that addressing lawlessness and chaos is the central issue that determines people’s vote. The fact that 75% stated that they personally do not feel safe and secure in their homes only made things worse for Fateh.
This is how Hamas benefited from this:
71% of those who considered corruption the most important consideration in voting voted for Hamas and only 19% for Fateh and 11% for the other lists.
Support for Hamas among those least safe and secure reached 56% and for Fateh 31%. By contrast, vote for Hamas among the most safe and secure dropped to 35% while increasing to 53% in the case of Fateh. Other lists benefited also from the absence of safety and security as the percentage of support for these lists increased among the least safe and secure and decreased among the most safe and secure.
Feelings of personal safety and security
Support for Hamas increases those least safe and secure (56%) and decreases among those most safe and secure (35%)
Support for Fateh drops among those least safe and secure (31%) and increases among the most safe and secure (53%)
Support for other lists increases among those least safe and secure and decreases among those most safe and secure
Findings show that optimism and pessimism were also instrumental in helping Hamas win the elections: most optimists voted for Fateh while most pessimists voted for Hamas. The optimists are those who believed that in the near future violence will stop and the two sides will return to negotiations while pessimists are those who expected more violence and no return to negotiations. Those who expected to see a continuation of violence and a return to negotiations stood in the middle. The level of optimism did not exceed 28%, those in the middle stood at 40%, pessimism at 22%, and 9% could not identify their mood. Hamas did very well among the pessimists and managed to do better than Fateh among those in the middle.
In-between Optimism and Pessimism
Most voters want to give the newly elected PLC more power than the president: 55% preferred to see the PLC more powerful while only 11% want to give the PLC less power than the president and 28% want to give both equal powers. In making a choice regarding what institution should have the power to make the most vital decisions for the Palestinian people, a majority of 55% prefer the PLC over all the others, with only 16% preferring the presidency, 7% the PLO National Council, 6% the PLO Executive Committee, 7% the Cabinet and the Prime Minister, and 9% made no clear preference.
These results show that 78% prefer to place vital decisions in the hands of PA institutions and only 13% prefer to place them in the hands of the PLO. It is worth remembering that 35% of the voters on the day of the presidential elections on 9 January 2005 preferred to place vital decisions in the hands of the president while only 30% wanted to place them in the hands of the PLC and 12% in the hands of the cabinet and prime minister, 8% in the hands of the PLO Executive Committee and 7% in the hands of the PLO National Council.
Comparison between the Views of the Votes on the Day of the Presidential Elections (in January 2005) and the Views of the Voters on the Day of the PLC Elections (in January 2006) Regarding the Role of Selected PA and PLO Institution in Making Vital Decisions
These results reflect clear voters’ disillusionment with the PLO’s ability to make vital decisions and a similar disillusionment with the President’s ability and the ability of the prime minister to make decisions while simultaneously hoping that the newly elected PLC will succeed in playing such a role. It is clear that the majority of voters, including those who voted for Hamas, did not expect Hamas to be in a position to be able to form the cabinet and appoint a Hamas Prime Minister.
Voters were asked to express their preferences for a prime minister and were given a list of five possible candidates, the first representing the old guard (Nabil Sha’ath), the second representing the young guard in the West Bank (Marwan Barghouti), the third representing the young guard in the Gaza Strip (Mohammad Dahlan), the fourth representing Hamas (Mahmud Zahhar), and the fifth representing the others (Mustapha Barghouti). Findings show Zahhar and Marwan Barghouti receiving almost equal number of votes. But they also show that the combined strength of the three Fateh candidates (54%) is much greater than that of Hamas candidate. Moreover, findings show that the overwhelming majority of those voting for Fateh candidates prefer those speaking on behalf of the young rather than the old guard (50% for Marwan Barghouti and Dahlan vs. 4% for Sha’ath).
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