The Jerusalem Media and Communication Centre (JMCC) in cooperation with Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung conducted a poll among Palestinian youth with a sample including 1000 people ranging between 15-29 years of age in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, between September 28 and October 1, 2016. The results of the poll were interesting in that the youth expressed their desire for the PNA to be maintained in spite of the negative views of its performance. They also held Hamas responsible for the failure to hold local council elections and held both Fatah and Hamas responsible for the political division. Furthermore, they detailed how they would select their candidates if elections were held and the factions they trust most.
Local council elections: Hamas is responsible
The poll showed that the largest percentage of respondents, 24.1%, held Hamas responsible for the postponement of local council elections while 18.8% held Fatah responsible and 10.3% held the PNA responsible; In response to a question about the criteria on which respondents would select candidates in local council elections, the largest percentage, 34.7% responded they would select on the basis of qualifications and professionalism, 33.3% said on the basis of credibility and reputation, while 16% claimed on the basis of political affiliation and 10.2% on the basis of family ties.
In the same context, even though the largest percentage of respondents, 47.2%, said that the postponement of local council elections did not make any difference to them, 39.8% answered they were uncomfortable with the postponement while 9.3% said they were comfortable with it.
Who would they vote for in presidential elections?
In regards to who would win the most votes if President Abbas did not run again in presidential elections, the largest percentage of respondents, 13.4%, said they would vote for Marwan Al- Barghouthi. He is followed by Ismail Haniyeh, at 9.5%, and Mohammad Dahlan, with 8.5% of respondents saying they would vote for him. It should be noted that the majority of those who voted for Haniyeh and Dahlan are from the Gaza Strip while those who voted for Marwan Al-Barghouthi are equally distributed between Gaza and the West Bank.
The poll also showed that Fatah is still the most trusted faction among the people; the percentage of those who trust Fatah rose to 35.0% in this poll after it was 33.8% in the April, 2016 poll. In contrast, trust in Hamas dropped to 15.3% in this poll after it was 19.1% in the April poll.
Unemployment: the number one enemy
The majority of youths polled, 54.5%, said the biggest problem facing them was unemployment. This was followed by the deterioration of political conditions at 10.7%, low salaries, 9.6%, travel and movement difficulties 6.7%, rise in marriage expenses, 4.2% and finally social restrictions and customs, 3.2%
In regards to reasons for unemployment, the largest percentage of youth polled, 43.7%, cited restrictions from the occupation, mainly restrictions on movement, 31.5% said it was because of the PA’s shortcomings and 22.9% answered that it was because of the incompatibility of university majors with the needs of the labor market.
University education and vocational training: lack of confidence and little appeal
The poll showed there was a drop in the overall level of confidence among youths regarding university education in Palestine; the largest percentage of those polled, 44%, said their confidence in university education was moderate, 13.3% said they had little confidence while 34.1% said they had much confidence in it.
The poll also showed that over half of the polled youth, 55.6%, do not believe that vocational training graduates found job opportunities while 30.7% said the opposite. Meanwhile, the majority of respondents, 57.1%, indicated that those who graduated from vocational training centers did not get good jobs. Furthermore, the largest percentage, 49.2% said vocational training graduates were not highly regarded by society.
How does change come about?
When asked what is the best way for Palestinian youths to instigate positive political change, the majority, 51.7%, said the best way is for youths to be good citizens (to study and work hard). 19.8% said the best way was to join civil society/grassroots organizations while 13.1% said that change would come through participating in demonstrations and 10.2% said it would be though joining a political party. Only 5.2% said change could be instigated through lone wolf attacks.
The youth and the PNA: Yes/No!
The majority of those polled, 63.8% said there was a need to maintain and perpetuate the PNA as opposed to 27.0% who said it needed to be dissolved even though 41.1% said the PNA’s performance was bad in contrast to 58.7% who said it was good in general. This desire to maintain the PNA comes in tandem with the need for its perpetuation in spite of a sort of dissatisfaction in public opinion among youths regarding the performance of its leadership. In this regard, 36.3% of respondents said President Abu Mazen was performing his job badly, 33.4% said his performance was average while 27% said it was good.
As to whether the President was in control of the Palestinian internal situation, respondents were split in their opinions, with 50.8% saying he was not in control and 46.5% who said he was in control of the internal situation.
As for Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, the largest percentage, 41.1% said he was doing an average job, while 28.8% said he was doing a bad job and 23.9% said he was doing a good job.
The division: Hamas or Fatah; what about ISIS?
The largest percentage of respondents, 35.6%, said that both Fatah and Hamas were the most responsible for the failed reconciliation. 21% claimed Hamas was responsible while 12.9% said Fatah was responsible. 20.8% blamed Israel for the failed reconciliation.
Meanwhile, the largest percentage, 48.1%, said ISIS harmed the Palestinian cause while 2.2% only said it served the cause and 44.6% said it had no impact on it.
Who are you and what are your news sources?
In response to the question on how they define themselves in one word, half of the polled youth, 51.1%, said they were Palestinian, 20.3% answered they were Muslim, 5.8% said Arab while 5.0% responded that they were Fatah-affiliated.
In regards to their first source of news, the largest percentage, 44.1% said it was social networking sites, 22.6% said internet news sites, 22.5% from television and 4.5% from radio. Newspapers were the first news source for only 1.2% of youths.