11 December 2008
Palestinian Public Opinion Poll No (30)
While Hamas Maintains its Popularity Despite Boycott of Reconciliation Talks, and While about Two Thirds Believe that Abbas’s Term Ends in January 2009, Three Quarters of the Palestinians Support Abbas’s Call for New Elections Early Next Year if Reconciliation Efforts Fail and if Elections Can Be Held in Both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip
3-5 December 2008
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 3 and 5 December 2008. This period witnessed the collapse of the Egyptian efforts to bring Palestinian factions to reconciliation talks in Cairo due to Hamas’s decision to boycott these talks. It also witnessed serious deterioration in the ceasefire in the Gaza Strip. 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 email@example.com.
Findings of the fourth quarter of 2008 indicate an end to the slow decline in Hamas’s popularity and continued stability in Fateh’s popularity despite Hamas’s boycott of the reconciliation talks scheduled to take place last month in Cairo. In fact, findings show that the gap between the popularity of President Abbas compared to that of Ismail Haniyeh has narrowed from 14 percentage points in the third quarter to 10 percentage points in the last quarter of 2008. The largest percentage blames both Hamas and Fateh for the collapse of the reconciliation efforts and the continuation of the divisions among Palestinians while smaller but similar percentages blame Fateh or Hamas alone. Positive evaluation of Palestinian conditions in the West Bank remains much higher than the positive evaluation of Palestinian conditions in the Gaza Strip.
As we found in our previous poll, almost two thirds share Hamas’s belief that the term of President Abbas ends in the first month of January 2009 as Hamas claims and not in the first month of 2010 as Fateh and the presidency claim. Findings also show that about three quarters support the call by the president to organize new elections in early 2009 if reconciliation talks do not succeed. But we also found that the majority opposes holding elections in the West Bank only, to be followed later by elections in the Gaza Strip that would be organized once reconciliation is achieved.
· If new parliamentary elections were to take place today with the approval of all factions, the Change and Reform list of Hamas would receive 28% of the vote (compared to 29% three months ago) and Fateh’s list would received 42% (compared to 43% three months ago). The combined strength of all other factions and parties stands today at 10% (compared to 11% three months ago). The undecided stands today at 20%. In the Gaza Strip, support for Hamas stands at 32% and for Fateh at 46%. In the West Bank, support for Hamas stands at 25% and Fateh at 39%.
· If new presidential elections were held today and Abbas was nominated by Fateh and Ismail Haniyeh was nominated by Hamas, 48% would vote for Abbas and 38% for Haniyeh. Three months ago, support for Abbas stood at 53% and for Haniyeh at 39%. In other words, the gap between the two men has decreased from 14 percentage points to 10. In the Gaza Strip, support for Abbas stands at 46% (compared to 42% for Haniyeh), and in the Gaza Strip, support for Abbas stands at 48% (compared to 36% for Haniyeh).
· If the competition was between Marwan Barghouti and Haniyeh, the former would receive 59% to Haniyeh’s 32%. In the Gaza Strip, support for Barghouti stands at 54% (compared to 39% for Haniyeh), and in the West Bank support for Barghouti stands at 62% (compared to 28% for Haniyeh).
· If reconciliation between Fateh and Hamas succeeds and early legislative and presidential elections were to take place in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, 39% believe that the main issue that will occupy people’s mind and affect their vote will be the ending of the boycott and blockade and the improvement of living conditions while 29% say the main issue will be the consolidation of the unification of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and the realization of national unity. Fighting corruption is believed to be the main issue by 12%, 8% believe the issue will be continuation of resistance to Israeli occupation, and another 8% believe it will be the continuation of the peace process.
· The largest percentage (46%) believes that both Fateh and Hamas are responsible for the failure of national reconciliation efforts while only 23% blame Hamas alone and 20% blame Fateh alone. Similarly, only 19% blame Hamas for the continued split between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip while 18% blame Fateh; but the majority (55%) blames the two sides together.
· Palestinians are divided over the main reason for Hamas’s boycott of the dialogue and reconciliation meetings in Cairo: 30% believe it was arrest of Hamas members in the West Bank, 26% believe it was external pressure on Hamas, 17% believe it was due to internal divisions within Hamas, and 10% believe it was due to Egypt’s siding with Fateh against Hamas.
· A majority of 64% believe that the term of President Abbas ends in January 2009 while only 24% believe it ends one year later, in January 2010. When we asked those who believe the president’s term ends in January 2009 who should in that case be the president on that date, the overwhelming majority said new elections should take place on that date while only 15% said it should be the Speaker of the Palestinian parliament and 7% said that Abbas should stay in office after that date.
· Similarly, 73% support the call by the president to organize presidential and parliamentary elections in early 2009 if the dialogue between Fateh and Hamas fails. But support drops considerably to 40% for elections that would take place in the West Bank only to be followed later by elections in the Gaza Strip after reconciliation is achieved.
· An overwhelming majority of 88% describes conditions of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip as bad or very bad while only 40% describe conditions of Palestinians in the West Bank as bad or very bad. Similarly, only 25% describe conditions of democracy and human rights in the Gaza Strip, under Haniyeh’s government, as good or very good while 36% describe the same conditions in the West Bank, under Abbas, as good or very good.
· Despite this, 61% of the residents of the Gaza Strip, compared to only 48% of the residents of the West Bank, say they and their families feel these days that they are safe and secure.
· The percentage of those wishing to immigrate is much higher in the Gaza Strip (reaching 40%) than in the West Bank (standing at 25%).
· Positive evaluation of the performance of Haniyeh’s government stands at 36% and positive evaluation of the performance of Fayyad’s government stands at 34%. These results are similar to those obtained in our last poll three months ago. In the Gaza Strip, positive evaluation of the performance of Haniyeh’s government stands today at 42% (compared to 32% in the West Bank), and in the West Bank, positive evaluation of the performance of Fayyad’s government stands today at 35% (compared to 33% in the Gaza Strip).
· 28% say that Haniyeh’s government is the legitimate one and 30% say Fayyad’s government is the legitimate one. 29% say both governments are not legitimate and 9% say both are legitimate. Three months ago, 33% s aid Fayyad’s government was the legitimate one while 27% said Haniyeh’s government was the legitimate one.
· Satisfaction with the performance of Abbas decreases slightly from 48% three months ago to 46% in this poll. Satisfaction with Abbas reaches 47% in the West Bank compared to 43% in the Gaza Strip.
· With the recent deployment of Palestinian security forces in Hebron, the public is divided over the issue of capacity: 45% believe the new deployment will succeed in enforcing law and order while 48% believe it will not succeed.
· Belief regarding the goal of the Hebron security forces’ deployment is also split with 31% believing that the goal is to enforce law and order while an identical percentage believes that the goal is to disarm the resistance forces. 23% say the goal is to achieve both while 9% say the goal is neither.
· Three quarters of the Palestinians (74%) support renewal of the ceasefire agreement in the Gaza Strip while 23% oppose the renewal.