PSR poll (40) - Press release
20 June 2011
Palestinian Public Opinion Poll No (40)
Fateh-Hamas reconciliation agreement improves the standing of Hamas, but the public prefers Fayyad as prime minister to Hamas’ candidate and wants the new government to follow Abbas’ and the PLO’s peace policy rather than Hamas’
16-18 June 2011
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 16-18 June 2011. The poll was conducted after the signing of the reconciliation agreement between Fateh and Hamas and during the continued turmoil and revolt in the Arab World including the popular uprisings in Syria, Yemen and Libya. This press release covers Palestinian domestic conditions, the performance of the governments of Salam Fayyad and Ismail Haniyeh, the internal balance of power between Fateh and Hamas, the future of the reconciliation agreement, and the views of the public on the most vital Palestinian goals and the most serious problems confronting Palestinians today. Total size of the sample is 1200 adults interviewed face to face in 120 randomly selected locations. Margin of error is 3%. While this press release covers domestic Palestinian issues, other issues related to the peace process and Israeli-Palestinian relations will be covered in a separate joint Palestinian-Israeli press release and later in our more detailed report on the poll.
For further details, contact PSR director, Dr. Khalil Shikaki, or Walid Ladadweh at tel 02-296 4933 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Findings of the second quarter of 2011 show that the reconciliation agreement between Fateh and Hamas has triggered important changes in public attitudes and perceptions. Indeed, the agreement has removed, almost completely, the issue of the split between West Bank and the Gaza Strip from the list of critical problems in the minds of the public. But the fading of the problem of the split led to the emergence of a new problem: the concern that the agreement, once implemented, and a majority believes that it will indeed be implemented, it will bring back international political and financial sanctions and boycott. For this reason, and while findings show that Hamas has benefited considerably from signing the agreement, a clear majority of the public wants the new Palestinian government of specialists, once formed, to implement the president’s and the PLO’s peace program and policy rather than that of Hamas. Most importantly, the largest percentage wants Salam Fayyad, Fateh’s candidate, to be the next prime minister. Indeed, only a small minority wants Jamal Khodari, Hamas’ candidate, to be the next prime minister. Perhaps the public believes that if Fayyad stays as prime minister and if he continues to implement Abbas’s peace agenda and policies, the threat of boycott and sanctions would diminish or disappear.
(1) The future of the reconciliation agreement:
- A majority of 59% believes that Fateh and Hamas will succeed in implementing the reconciliation agreement and in unifying the West Bank and the Gaza Strip while 37% believe they will fail.
- A majority of 55% expects the return of international boycott and financial sanctions after the formation of a new reconciliation government and 37% do not expect that.
- In a choice between Fateh’s candidate, Salam Fayyad, and Hamas’ candidate, Jamal Khodari, 45% of the public favors the former and only 22% favor the latter. 12% favor other candidates and 21% remain undecided.
- Moreover, a majority of 61% wants the new government of reconciliation to follow the peace policies and agendas of President Abbas and the PLO rather than Hamas’. Only 18% want the new government to follow the peace policy and agenda of Hamas.
- Half of the public (50%) says that both Fateh and Hamas came out winners from the reconciliation agreement, 12% say Hamas came out the winner, 11% say Fateh came out the winner, and 20% say neither came out a winner.
- 29% believe that the reason a reconciliation agreement was signed has to do with the fall of the Mubarak regime in Egypt while 27% believe it was the youth demonstrations in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip that was responsible for forcing the two sides to sign the agreement. Moreover, 21% believe the reason was the failure of negotiations with Israel while 12% believe it was the eruption of youth demonstrations against the Syrian regime.
(2) Domestic Conditions
- 25% describe conditions in the Gaza Strip as good or very good and 47% describe them as bad or very bad. In our last poll, three months ago, in March 2011, 21% described conditions in the Gaza Strip as good or very good and 56% said they were bad or very bad. It is worth noting that a year ago, in June 2010, only 9% described conditions in the Gaza Strip as good or very good. Today, 37% describe conditions in the West Bank as good or very good and 29% describe them as bad or very bad. Three months ago, these percentages stood at 33% and 33% respectively. As can be seen in the following table, a year ago, positive evaluation of conditions in the West Bank stood at 35%.
Table: Positive evaluation (good or very good) of conditions
in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip
- 71% say there is corruption in the PA institutions in the West Bank while only 60% say there is corruption in the institutions of the dismissed government in the Gaza Strip. These percentages are similar to those obtained three months ago.
- 61% say there is, or there is to some extent, press freedom in the West Bank and 34% say there is no such freedom in the West Bank. By contrast, 47% say there is, or there is to some extent, press freedom in the Gaza Strip while 41% say there is no such freedom in the Gaza Strip.
- 31% say people in the West Bank can criticize the authority in the West Bank without fear. By contrast, 25% say people in the Gaza Strip can criticize the authorities in Gaza without fear. These findings reflect an improvement in the situation in the Gaza Strip and a slight decline in the West Bank compared to where things stood three months ago. Since the split between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, in June 2007, these percentages have witnessed gradual and significant decrease. As the table below shows, belief that people can criticize the authorities in the West Bank without fear stood at 56% while 52% believed that people can criticize the authorities without fear in the Gaza Strip. This is the first time since the split that we have seen an increase in the percentage of those who believe that people in the Gaza Strip can criticize the authorities there without fear. The change may be due to changing perceptions of Hamas’ behavior in the Gaza Strip after the signing of the reconciliation agreement.
Table: belief that people can criticize authorities in the West Bank or Gaza Strip
without fear since the spilt between the two areas
Ability to criticize authorities in the West Bank
Ability to criticize authorities in the Gaza Strip
- Perception of safety and security stands at 56% in the West Bank and 80% in the Gaza Strip. This finding indicates a large increase in the perception of safety and security in the Gaza Strip compared to March 2011 when it stood at 67%. The difference may reflect a perception change in light of the reconciliation agreement.
- Positive evaluation of the performance of the governments of Ismail Haniyeh stands at 39% and Salam Fayyad’s at 43%. Three months ago, these percentages stood at 31% and 39% respectively.
- Findings show that the percentage of Gazans who say that political, security, and economic conditions force them to seek immigration to other countries stands at 40%; in the West Bank, the percentage stands at 26%. Three months ago, these figures stood at 37% and 21% respectively, which means that the signing of the reconciliation agreement, despite the public support, has nonetheless brought back concerns about international sanctions and boycott.
- Percentage of satisfaction with the performance of President Abbas stands at 52% while 45% say they are dissatisfied with his performance. These percentages reflect an increase in the level of satisfaction with the performance of the president, which stood at 46% three months ago while the level of dissatisfaction stood at 51%. Satisfaction with the performance of the president stands at 47% in the Gaza Strip and 55% in the West Bank. The increase in the percentage of satisfaction with the performance of Abbas may be an outcome of the signing of the reconciliation agreement.
(3) Presidency and Legislative Elections:
- If new presidential elections are held today, and only two were nominated, Abbas would receive the vote of 54% and Haniyeh 38% of the vote of those participating. The rate of participation in such election would reach 60%. In the Gaza Strip, Abbas receives in this poll 51% and Haniyeh 44% and in the West Bank Abbas receives 56% and Haniyeh 34%. These results are similar to those obtained in our pervious poll three months ago.
- If the presidential elections were between Marwan Barghouti and Ismail Haniyeh, the former would receive 61% and the latter would receive 33% of the participants’ votes. The rate of participation in this case would reach 67%. In the Gaza Strip, Barghouti receives 56% and Haniyeh 40% and in the West Bank Barghouti receives 64% and Haniyeh 29%. These results are similar to those obtained three months ago.
- Most popular figures selected by the public as possible vice presidents from a list of five provided to respondents are Marwan Barghouti (selected by 27% of the public), Ismail Haniyeh (22%), Salam Fayyad (17%) Mustafa Barghouti (9%) and Saeb Erekat (4%).
- If new legislative elections are held today with the participation of all factions, 69% say they would participate in such elections. Of those who would participate, 28% say they would vote for Hamas and 42% say they would vote for Fateh, 10% would vote for all other third parties combined, and 19% are undecided. These results indicate an increase of two percentage points to each of Fateh and Hamas compared to our results three months ago. Vote for Hamas in the Gaza Strip in this poll stands at36 % and in the West Bank 24%. Vote for Fateh in the Gaza Strip is 43% and in the West Bank 42%.
(4) Internal disagreements within Fateh and Hamas and Abbas’ decision regarding “family honor” killings:
- An overwhelming majority of 75% supports and 19% oppose PA president decision annulling articles in the penal code whereby those accused of “family honor” killings are given light sentences.
- 70% support and 21% oppose the decision by Fateh’s Central Committee to expel Mohammad Dahlan from Fateh and transferring his file to the Attorney General’s office. Opposition to the decision increases to 28% in the Gaza Strip and drops to 17% in the West Bank.
- Moreover, 61% believe that differences of opinion within Fateh regarding Dahlan reflect big and serious disagreement within the movement while 33% believe they reflect a minor disagreement.
- Differences of opinion that erupted within Hamas after the signing of the reconciliation agreement reflect big and serious disagreement within the movement in the views of 42% of the public while 48% believe that they reflect minor disagreements.
(5) Youth demonstrations in Syria and Yemen:
- An overwhelming majority of 89% sympathizes with the demonstrators against the Assad regime in Syria and 90% sympathize with the demonstrators against the regime in Yemen.
(6) Most vital Palestinian goals and the main problems confronting Palestinians today:
- The largest percentage (48%) believes that the first most vital Palestinian goal should be to end Israeli occupation in the areas occupied in 1967 and build a Palestinian state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip with East Jerusalem as its capital. By contrast, 26% believe the first most vital goal should be to obtain the right of return of refugees to their 1948 towns and villages, 15% believe that it should be to build a pious or moral individual and a religious society, one that applies all Islamic teachings, and 11% believe that the first and most vital goal should be to establish a democratic political system that respects freedoms and rights of Palestinians.
- The largest percentage (40%) believes that the second most vital Palestinian goal should be to obtain the right of return of refugees to their 1948 towns and villages. 25% believe that the second goal should be to end Israeli occupation in the areas occupied in 1967 and build a Palestinian state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip with East Jerusalem as its capital, 19% believe that the second goal should be to establish a democratic political system that respects freedoms and rights of Palestinians, and 16% believe the second most vital goal should be to build a pious or moral individual and a religious society, one that applies all Islamic teachings.
- The most serious problem confronting Palestinian society today is the spread of poverty and unemployment in the eyes of 36% of the public while 30% believe that it is the continuation of occupation and settlement activities, 18% believe it to be the corruption in some public institutions, and 11% believe it to be the siege and the closure of the Gaza border crossings. Only 2% mentioned the absence of national unity due to the West Bank-Gaza Strip split which was mentioned by 28% in our previous poll in March 2011. It is clear that the signing of the reconciliation agreement and the belief of the majority that the agreement will indeed be implemented has removed this issue from among the list of main problems as perceived by the public.
This poll was conducted with the support of Konrad Adenauer Stiftung - Ramallah.
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