Poll shows Palestinians now favor Hamas over Fatah
The militant group, which opposes peace talks and Israel, has reversed a two-year decline in popularity.
Palestinian Public Opinion Poll No (27)
With Increased Dissatisfaction with the Performance of Mahmud Abbas and with the Government of Ismail Haniyeh Seen as Having Greater Legitimacy and Better Performance than the Government of Salam Fayyad, Hamas’s and Haniyeh’s Popularity Increase and Fateh’s and Abbas’s Decrease
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 and 15 March 2008.
· The gap between the standing of Fateh compared to the standing of Hamas decreases significantly in three months from 18 percentage points to 7. If new parliamentary elections were to take place today, Hamas would receive 35%, Fateh 42%, other electoral lists combined 12%, and 11% remain undecided. This represents a significant increase in Hamas’s popularity compared to December 2007 when it received 31% compared to 49% to Fateh, 10% to other lists and 11% undecided. Hamas’s popularity increased to 34% during the breaching of the Rafah border with Egypt during the last week of January while Fateh’s popularity dropped to 46%. Hamas is more popular in the Gaza Strip reaching 40% compared to 31% in the West Bank. Fateh’s popularity is slightly greater in the Gaza Strip, reaching 43% compared to 41% in the West Bank.
· The gap between the standing of Abbas compared to the standing of Haniyeh decreases significantly in three months from 19 percentage points to almost zero. If new presidential elections were to take place today, Mahmud Abbas and Ismail Haniyeh would receive almost equal number of votes, 46% for Abbas and 47% for Haniyeh. Abbas’s popularity stood at 56% and Haniyeh’s at 37% last December. During the breaching of the Rafah border with Egypt, Abbas’s popularity dropped to 51% and Haniyeh’s increased to 43%. Haniyeh’s popularity today is the highest ever registered since Hamas’s electoral victory in January 2006. However, if the competition was between Marwan Barghouti and Haniyeh, the former would receive 57% and the latter 38%. Moreover, the percentage of non-participation would decrease from 34% (if the competition was between Abbas and Haniyeh) to 24% (if the competition was between Barghouti and Haniyeh).
· Findings show continued decrease in the level of satisfaction with the performance of Abbas and a greater positive evaluation for the performance of Haniyeh’s government over the performance of Fayyad’s government. Satisfaction with the performance of Abbas stands today at 41% and dissatisfaction at 56%. Satisfaction with Abbas’s performance stood at 50% last December and 46% during the breaching of the Rafah border with Egypt. Moreover, only 30% say that the performance of the Fayyad government is good or very good and 42% say it is bad or very bad. By contrast, 39% say the performance of the Haniyeh’s government is good or very good and only 34% say it is bad or very bad.
· Findings show depreciation in the legitimacy of Fayyad’s government and a significant rise in public perception of the legitimacy of Haniyeh’s government. 49% say Haniyeh should stay in office as Prime Minister while 45% say he should not. Last September only 40% said Haniyeh should stay as prime minister. By contrast, today only 38% say Fayyad’s government should stay in office and 55% say it should not. Support for Fayyad’s government stood at 49% last September. Similarly, 34% say Haniyeh’s government is the legitimate Palestinian government and only 29% say Fayyad’s government is the legitimate one. 9% say both governments are legitimate and 24% say both are illegitimate. It is noticeable that Haniyeh’s government receives greater public legitimacy both in the West Bank (32% to Haniyeh’s compared to 26% to Fayyad’s) and the Gaza Strip (37% to Haniyeh’s compared to 34% to Fayyad’s). It is also worth mentioning that this is the first time that Haniyeh’s government has received greater public legitimacy than Fayyad’s. Last December, belief that Fayyad’s government was legitimate stood at 38% and belief that Haniyeh’s government was legitimate stood at 30%.
· Despite the fact that the majority continues to reject Hamas’s June 2007 violent takeover of the Gaza Strip, only a small minority believes that Hamas alone is responsible for the continued political split between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Rejection of Hamas’s violent takeover stands today at 68% and acceptance of the takeover at 26%. Rejection of the takeover stood at 73% last September. Acceptance of Hamas’s takeover increases in the Gaza Strip reaching 33% compared to 23% in the West Bank. However, only 17% believe that Hamas alone is responsible for the continued split between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and in fact 21% say Fateh alone is responsible for the continued split. A majority of 54% believes that both Hamas and Fateh are responsible for the continued split. The tendency to avoid blaming Hamas alone for the continuation of the split reflects a change in public perception regarding the positions of the two factions regarding return to dialogue as an exit from the current crisis. Support for Fateh’s and Abbas’s position, which demands a return to the status quo ante as a precondition to dialogue drops from 46% last September to 39% in this poll. Support for Hamas’s position, which calls for unconditional dialogue, increases from 27% to 37% during the same period.
· Perception of personal and family security and safety diminishes considerably in the West Bank declining from 44% last December to 32% in this poll. Perception of security and safety improved greatly in the West Bank in December 2007 compared to September when it stood at 35%. In the Gaza Strip, perceptions of personal and family security and safety diminish somewhat from 52% to 46% between December 2007 and March 2008.