PSR - Survey Research Unit: Poll No. 31 - Press Release


09 March 2009

PRESS RELEASE

 

Palestinian Public Opinion Poll No (31)

 

The popularity of Abbas and Fayyad declines sharply while the popularity of Haniyeh and Hamas increases significantly; but Fateh can still defeat Hamas and the overwhelming majority believes Palestinians after the war on Gaza are worse off than before the war

 

5-7 March 2009   

 

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 5 and 7 March 2009. The poll was conducted several weeks after the Israeli attack on the Gaza Strip. The poll period witnessed return of Palestinian factions to reconciliation talks sponsored by Egypt. 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 first quarter of 2009 indicate a significant increase in the popularity of Ismail Haniyeh and Hamas and decease in the popularity of president Mahmud Abbas and Fateh. They also indicate a significant decline in the status and legitimacy of Salam Fayyad. Despite these findings, Fateh’s popularity remains higher than that of Hamas. The two most important factors shaping public attitudes regarding these issues seem to be the Israeli offensive against Gaza, particularly the performance of Abbas and the government of Fayyad during the war, and public perceptions of the end of Abbas’s term in office and hence the loss of legitimacy suffered by the Fayyad’s government.   

 

  • If new presidential elections were held today and the two candidates were Ismail Haniyeh and Mahmud Abbas, the former receives 47% of the vote and the later 45%. Three months ago, Abbas received 48% and Haniyeh 38%. In the Gaza Strip Abbas wins with 50% of the vote compared to 44% for Haniyeh.
  • But if the competition was between Marwan Barghouti and Haniyeh, the former wins with 61% of the vote compared to 34% for Haniyeh. Three months ago, Barghouti received 59% and Haniyeh 32%.
  • Popularity of Hamas increases from 28% in our December 2008 poll to 33% in this poll while the popularity of Fateh drops from 42% to 40% during the same period. The gap between Fateh and Hamas reaches 12 percentage points in favor of Fateh in the Gaza Strip but reaches only 3 percentage points in the West Bank, also in favor of Fateh.
  • Decline in the popularity of Abbas and Fateh reflects a decline in the percentage of popular satisfaction with the performance of president Abbas from 46% three months ago to 40% in this poll. Moreover, positive evaluation of the performance of Salam Fayyad’s government declines from 34% to 32% during the same period while positive evaluation of the performance of Haniyeh’s government increases significantly from 36% to 43%.
  • Moreover, it seems that public perception of the ending of Abbas’s term in office is leading 27% to believe that the legitimate president today is the Speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council, and 24% to believe that there is no legitimate president today, while only 39% believe that the legitimate president today is Abbas.
  • In the competition over legitimacy between the governments of Haniyeh and Fayyad, 35% say Haniyeh’s government is the legitimate one while only 24% say Fayyad’s is the legitimate one. Thee months ago, 28% said Haniyeh’s government was the legitimate one and 30% said Fayyad’s government was the legitimate one.
  • Despite the visible increase in the popularity of Hamas and Haniyeh, the overwhelming majority (71%) says that given the outcome of the Israeli war on Gaza, conditions of the Palestinians today are worse off than they were before the war, while only 11% say conditions today are better off than they were before the war. 17% say conditions have not changed. In the Gaza Strip, the percentage of those who believe that Palestinians are worse off today reaches 79%.
  • Moreover, despite the decline in the popularity and status of Abbas and Fayyad, 25% say conditions in the West Bank are good while only 7% say conditions in the Gaza Strip are good.
  • Similarly, Hamas’s call for the establishment of a new representative body that can serve as an umbrella for the resistance groups receives the support of only one third of the Palestinians while 57% say that the PLO should be maintained.
  • The largest percentage (46%) believe that the most important priority for Palestinians today should be  the unification of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip while 28% say it should be the return to quite and the opening of Gaza crossings and 25% say the top priority should be the reconstruction in the Gaza Strip.  In the Gaza Strip, belief that Gaza reconstruction should be the top priority stand at 21% only compared to 27% in the West Bank.
  • Finally, Fateh’s greater popularity compared to Hamas’s reflects public perceptions regarding possible implications of election outcome on two major issues that seem to influence electoral behavior more than any other issue as we saw in our last poll in December. These two issues are the ending of siege and blockade and the unification of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Current findings indicate the following:

-         if Hamas wins new presidential and legislative elections, 63% of the public believe that such an outcome would lead to the tightening of the siege and boycott while an additional 19% say current conditions of boycott would remain the same and only 12% say a Hamas electoral victory would lead to the lifting of the siege and boycott. By contrast, if Fateh wins new presidential and legislative elections, only 11% say that such outcome would lead to the tightening of the siege and boycott and an additional 24% say current conditions would remain the same, but the majority (61%) says a Fateh electoral victory would lead to the lifting of the siege and boycott. It is worth noting that the belief that a Fateh electoral victory would lead to the lifting of the siege increases significantly in the Gaza Strip reaching 76% and decreases to 52% in the West Bank.

-         Similarly, if Hamas wins new presidential and legislative elections, 47% of the public believe that such an outcome would lead to the consolidation of the split between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and an additional 23% say current conditions would remain the same but only 24% say a Hamas victory would lead to the consolidation of West Bank-Gaza Strip unity. By contrast, if Fateh wins new presidential and legislative elections only 31% say that such an outcome would lead to the consolidation of the split between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and an additional 26% say current conditions would remain the same, but 37% say such a Fateh electoral victory would lead to the consolidation of West Bank-Gaza Strip unity.   It is worth noting that the belief that a Hamas electoral victory lead to the consolidation of West Bank-Gaza Strip split increases considerably in the Gaza Strip compared to the West Bank (56% compared to 42%) while the belief that a Fateh electoral victory would lead to the consolidation of West Bank-Gaza Strip unity increases significantly in the Gaza Strip reaching 47%% and decreases to 31% in the West Bank. 

 

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