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last updated April 20, 2021
published April 20, 2021
Poll No. 97 - Palestine Before the Elections
Read more:  elections, presidential elections, legislative elections, Fateh, Hamas, Mahmooud Abbas, Mohammad Shtayyeh, COVID-19, PLO, Mohammed Dahlan, Ismail Haniyeh, Mahmoud Aloul, Marwan Barghouthi, public opinion, polls
Summary: Barghouthi ahead of Abu Mazen in presidential race while Fatah ahead of Hamas in PLC race

Ramallah – Results of the most recent public opinion poll conducted by the Jerusalem Media and Communication Center (JMCC) in cooperation with Friedrich Ebert Stiftung showed imprisoned Marwan Barghouthi holds an advantage over President Abu Mazen if presidential elections are held as long as runners in the elections are limited to these two candidates, alongside Ismail Haniyeh.

The results of the poll, which was held between April 3 and 13, showed that 33.5% of respondents would vote for Marwan Barghouthi while 24.5% would vote for Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen), 10.5% would vote for Ismail Haniyeh and 31.5% said they still had no answer. Meanwhile, 60.2% said they supported the idea of Marwan Barghouthi running for president, while 19.3% said they did not support the idea.

Importance of holding elections
The majority of respondents, 79.2%, said it was important to hold legislative elections in Palestine as opposed to 14.3% who said it was not important. Nonetheless, the biggest majority, 44.4% said they believed the declared elections would be postponed, as opposed to 38.6% who said they expected them to be held on time. Regarding the integrity of the upcoming elections, 28.4% responded they believed they would be fair while 35.2% said they would be somewhat fair and 27.1% said they did not think they would be fair at all.

Voter turnout is expected to be high in PLC elections, with 74.2% of those polled saying they would vote while 25.8% said their participation would be unlikely. 66% of those who said they would not vote justified their position by saying they were not convinced of how beneficial the elections or the candidates would be, while 20.7% said their decision was based on personal or technical reasons.

Presidential elections prompted similar results, with the majority of respondents, 80.9%, saying it was important to hold them, while 14.8% said it was not important. Furthermore, 78.3% said they wanted to participate in presidential elections while 21.7% said they did not want to.

Fatah ahead of Hamas
In response to the question about which electoral list they would vote for in the elections slated to take place next month, 25.3% answered they would vote for the Fatah list headed by Mahmoud Aloul (23.1% in the West Bank and 28.7% in the Gaza Strip). This was followed by 13% who said they would vote for the Freedom List, headed by Nasser Qudwa and Marwan Barghouthi (15% in the West Bank and 10.1% in the Gaza Strip). Next came the Future List, headed by Samir Mashharawi, 8.8%, (20.2% in the Gaza Strip and 1.1% in the West Bank), followed by the “Al Quds is our Destiny” List, headed by Khalil Hayya, 8.2% (5.9% in the West Bank and 11.5% in the Gaza Strip), then the “The People’s Pulse” List, headed by Ahmad Saadat, at 2.2% and the “Together We Can”, headed by Dr. Salam Fayyad, at 2.1%. It should be noted that 23.5% said they would not vote, mostly in the West Bank (27.4% in the West Bank and 17.7% in the Gaza Strip).

The ages and platforms of the candidates
Regarding the controversial topic of the candidacy age for legislative elections, the poll showed that the majority of respondents, 77.7%, believe the most appropriate candidacy age is 28 and above, while 13.3% said it should be 25 and above, 3.4% said 20 and above and 3.1% said 18 years and above. Regarding the criteria for choosing candidates, 27.3% said their criteria was professional qualifications while 23.4% said it was personal qualifications, 15.7% said political affiliation, 12.4% said the party program and 5.5% said religiosity.

Trust in the factions and their leaders
The poll showed a rise in the level of trust in Fatah, which stood at 36.2% of respondents, as opposed to 28.2% in March, 2019. Meanwhile, trust in Hamas dropped to 7.3% from 10.3% in March, 2019, while the percentage of people who do not trust anyone dropped to 39.1% from 41.1% in the March, 2019 poll.

It is noteworthy that Fatah scored a higher level of trust in the Gaza Strip than in the West Bank (43.9% in the Gaza Strip and 30.9% in the West Bank) as did Hamas (11.8% in the Gaza Strip and 4.2% in the West Bank). Moreover, the percentage of those who do not trust anyone in the West Bank was more than in the Gaza Strip (46.7% in the West Bank and 27.8% in the Gaza Strip).

As for trusting leaders, trust in President Mahmoud Abbas rose to 14.5% from 11.5% in March, 2019. Likewise, trust in Marwan Barghouthi went up to 15.9% from 8.4% in March, 2019. Conversely, the level of trust in Ismail Haniyeh dropped to 5.3% from 6.3% in March, 2019. As for Mohammed Dahlan, the level of trust among respondents in this poll was 4.8%.

There was a considerable discrepancy between the levels of trust in leaders the West Bank and Gaza Strip. 19.2% of respondents said they trusted President Mahmoud Abbas in the Gaza Strip as opposed to 11.3% in the West Bank. Likewise, 7.8% said they trusted Ismail Haniyeh in the Gaza Strip as opposed to 3.6% in the West Bank. Meanwhile, Marwan Barghouthi enjoyed a higher level of trust in the West Bank than in Gaza (17.3% in the West Bank and 13.8% in the Gaza Strip) while Mohammed Dahlan had a higher level of trust among respondents in the Gaza Strip, at 11.3% as opposed to 0.3% in the West Bank.

US and Israeli elections and the two-state solution
Poll results showed relative optimism regarding the new US administration, with 19.5% of respondents saying the policy of new US President Joe Biden would increase the chance of reaching a just peace between Palestinians and Israelis, as opposed to just 5.1% who answered the same way after former President Trump was elected in 2017. Conversely, 27.3% said Biden’s policy would decrease the chances for peace, compared to 48.5% who said the same thing after Trump was elected in 2017. In this same direction, 22.5% expressed their optimism about reaching a solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict on the back of President Biden being sworn into office, while only 4.7% expressed the same optimism after former President Trump was sworn in, in 2017. Meanwhile, 23.4% said they were more pessimistic after Biden was sworn into office and 44.5% said it would not make a difference.

Meanwhile, the minority of those polled, 10.5%, said they were optimistic that Israeli elections would have a positive impact on the Palestinian cause, while 42.9% said they would have a negative impact and 34.2% said they would have no impact.

It is clear from the poll that there is no mentionable change in the public’s position regarding a political solution to the Palestinian cause. 39.3% (the same percentage as past years) said they believed the two-state solution was the best solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, as opposed to 21.4% who said the binational state was the best solution. As for the idea of Hamas joining PLO institutions, respondents were split between supporting the idea, 41.2%, and opposing it, 36.2%, while 15% said they had no opinion on this.

The government and the coronavirus pandemic
The poll results showed a setback in the public’s assessment of the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, with a decrease in trust from 95.8% in April last year to 44.6% this April. What’s more, it seems the duration of the pandemic has exacerbated its social repercussions whereby 51.8% of the respondents said domestic violence had increased while just 20.1% said the same thing last April.

In terms of taking the COVID-19 vaccine, the larger majority of those polled, 45.7%, said they would take the vaccine if it becomes available, while 39.3% said they would not take it, even if it is available and 15% said they were still undecided. It is noteworthy that a minority of respondents, 30.5%, said they would take the vaccine if made available in the Gaza Strip, as opposed to 55.9% in the West Bank.

Seemingly, the pandemic and its economic repercussions have increased citizens’ interest in social security, with the majority of respondents, 97.4%, saying it was important for the government to offer a social security program. In response to the question about their support for a social security law in light of the coronavirus pandemic, the majority, 90.8%, said they supported this while 7.5% said they opposed it.

Performance of the government and PNA
52.4% of respondents expressed their satisfaction over the performance of the government as opposed to 38.6% who said they were dissatisfied. This represents a setback in comparison to last June when 71.6% said they were satisfied with the performance of the government as opposed to 28.4% that said they were dissatisfied. As for Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh, 25.6% said he was doing a good job, while 41.3% said he was doing an average job and 22.3% said he was doing a bad job. On President Mahmoud Abbas, half the respondents, 50.3%, said they were satisfied with his performance while 42% said they were not satisfied.
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