Single title - Foundation Office Palestinian Territories
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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 13-15 December 2012. This press release covers public evaluation of the general West Bank and Gaza conditions, elections, reconciliation, public evaluation of the performance of the governments of Salam Fayyad and Ismail Haniyeh, the internal balance of power between Fateh and Hamas, and the views of the public on the most vital Palestinian goals and the main problems Palestinians confront today. Total size of the sample is 1270 adults interviewed face to face in 127 randomly selected locations. Margin of error is 3%. While this press release covers domestic Palestinian issues, other issues related to the Gaza war, 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.
The events of the past several weeks have given Hamas a significant boost similar to the aftermath of the breaching of the Rafah border with Egypt in early 2008. The fourth quarter of 2012 shows a dramatic change in public attitude favoring Hamas. Haniyeh’s popularity increases significantly allowing him to defeat Abbas if new presidential elections are held today. A parliamentary election, if held today, would give Hamas and Fateh an almost equal number of votes. Moreover, positive public evaluation of conditions in the Gaza Strip increases dramatically and the gap in public perception of conditions in the West Bank compared to conditions in the Gaza Strip widens in favor of the latter; this gap was first registered in our previous poll last September. Needless to say, the outcome of the latest Gaza war between Hamas and Israel is responsible for this change, a subject that we will turn to shortly in our next press release.
Findings are also somewhat positive for Abbas. Evaluation of conditions in the West Bank is more positive today than it was three months ago. Similarly, positive evaluation of Abbas’ performance increases in this poll. These results might have been generated by the outcome of the diplomatic warfare at the UN between the PA and Israel. The cessation of demonstrations and internal confrontations that erupted in the West Bank more than three months ago in protest against price rises and the deteriorating economic conditions might have also contributed to the general public perception of improvement of the general conditions in the West Bank. Finally, findings show a dramatic increase in the level of optimism regarding the chances for reconciliation and the reunification of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip compared to the situation not only three months ago but most importantly since the separation in June 2007.
Presidential, Legislative, and Local Elections:
- Haniyeh wins a presidential election: If new presidential elections are held today, and only two were nominated, Abbas would receive the vote of 45% and Haniyeh 48% of the vote of those participating. The rate of participation in such elections would reach 69%. Three months ago, Abbas received the support of 51% and Haniyeh 40%. In this poll, in the Gaza Strip, Abbas receives 44% and Haniyeh 52% and in the West Bank Abbas receives 45% and Haniyeh 45%. The percentage of vote for Haniyeh is the highest since Hamas’ electoral victory in 2006. The previous highest percentage of vote for Haniyeh stood at 47% in March 2008, immediately after the breaching of the Rafah borders with Egypt. Percentage of support for Abbas at that time stood at 46%
- If the presidential elections were between Marwan Barghouti and Ismail Haniyeh, the former would receive 51% and the latter would receive 42% of the participants’ votes. The rate of participation in this case would reach 73%. In our September poll Barghouti received 61% of the vote and Haniyeh 32%.
- If the presidential elections were between three: Mahmud Abbas, Marwan Barghouti and Ismail Haniyeh, Haniyeh would receive the largest percentage (39%) followed by Barghouti (29%), and Abbas (27%). The rate of participation in this case would reach 77%. In our previous poll last September, Barghouti received 45%, Haniyeh 29%, and Abbas 20%.
- If new legislative elections are held today with the participation of all factions, 78% say they would participate in such elections. Of those who would participate, 35% say they would vote for Hamas and 36% say they would vote for Fateh, 10% would vote for all other third parties combined, and 20% are undecided. Vote for Hamas in the Gaza Strip stands in this poll at 39% and in the West Bank at 33%. Vote for Fateh in the Gaza Strip stands in this poll at 38% and in the West Bank at 34%. These results indicate a sharp increase in Hamas’ popularity compared to our September results when it stood at 28% (31% in the Gaza Strip and 25% in the West Bank). By contrast, Fateh’s popularity remained almost unchanged during the same period.
- Only 49% of the public believe that the local elections that took place in the West Bank last October were fair and 34% say they were not fair.
- Positive evaluation of conditions in the Gaza Strip rises sharply from 25% three months ago to 43% in this poll while 33% say conditions are bad or very bad.
- Similarly, positive evaluation of conditions in the West Bank rises sharply from 19% three months ago to 35% in this poll while 36% say conditions are bad or very bad.
- Perception of corruption in PA institutions in the West Bank drops from 79% in our previous poll three months ago to 74% in this poll. Perception of corruption in the public institutions of Hamas’ Gaza government stands at 53% compared to 63% three months ago.
- 24% say there is, and 45% say there is to some extent, press freedom in the West Bank. Similarly, 23% say there is, and 40% say there is to some extent, press freedom in the Gaza Strip.
- 35% of the Palestinian public say people in the West Bank can criticize the authority in the West Bank without fear. By contrast, 29% of the public say people in the Gaza Strip can criticize the authorities in Gaza without fear. These results indicate a decrease in the perception of freedom to criticize authorities in the West Bank compared to results obtained three months ago when it stood at 42%.
- Perception of safety and security in the West Bank stands at 60% and in the Gaza Strip at 70%. Three months ago these percentages stood at 64% in the Gaza Strip and 56% in the West Bank.
- Findings show that the percentage of Gazans who say they seek immigration to other countries stands at 41%; in the West Bank, the percentage stands at 22%. Last September these percentages stood at 42% and 29% respectively.
- Positive evaluation of the performance of the Haniyeh government rises sharply from 35% three months ago to 56% in this poll and positive evaluation of the performance of the Fayyad government increases from 22% to 34% during the same period.
- Percentage of satisfaction with the performance of President Abbas stands at 54% while 44% say they are dissatisfied with his performance. Three months ago, satisfaction with Abbas stood at 46%.
- In light of the resumption of the dialogue between Fateh and Hamas, 39% say they expect unity between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip to be restored in the near future, 40% believe that unity will be restored but only after a long time, and only 18% say unity will never be restored and that two separate entities will be established in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. In our September poll, the largest percentage (42%) said that unity will never be restored and two separate entities will be established; only 14% said unity will be restored in the near future. The current percentage of optimism regarding reconciliation and restoration of unity is the highest since separation. At that time, a percentage of 29% believed that unity will be restored within months while 22% said separation will become permanent.
Most vital Palestinian goals and the main problems confronting Palestinians today:
- 44% believe 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, 33% believe the first most vital goal should be to obtain the right of return of refugees to their 1948 towns and villages, 14% believe that it should be to build a pious or moral individual and a religious society, one that applies all Islamic teachings, and 9% believe that the first and most vital goal should be to establish a democratic political system that respects freedoms and rights of Palestinians.
- The most serious problem confronting Palestinian society today is the spread of poverty and unemployment in the eyes of 27% of the public while 25% believe the most serious problem is the continuation of occupation and settlement activities, another 25% say it is the absence of national unity due to the West Bank-Gaza Strip split, 15% believe the most serious problem is corruption in some public institutions, and 6% believe it is the siege and the closure of the Gaza border crossings.
This PSR Poll has been conducted with the support of the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung in Ramallah.