Palestinians Demand Presidential and Parliamentary Elections
86.9% of Palestinians think holding presidential elections is important, while 82.8% say it is important to hold parliamentary elections. These are the findings of an opinion poll conducted by the Jerusalem Media and Communication Center (JMCC), in partnership with the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES).
These public opinion polls are regularly conduct, they focus on recent socio-political developments in the occupied Palestinian territories and include trend questions to highlight long-term developments. The current poll (No. 94) was conducted late March in both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip with a randomly selected sample of 1200 Palestinians over the age of 18 in face-to-face interviews.
Elections: A popular demand
The majority of Palestinians polled, 82.8%, said it was important to hold Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) elections. Likewise, 86.9% said it was important to hold presidential elections. The poll showed that the public was split into those choosing between independent candidates and those choosing candidates from factions and parties, with 38.6% saying they would vote for independent candidates while 37.7% said they would vote for party or faction candidates. At the same time the majority of Palestinians, 86.6%, rejected holding elections without the Gaza Strip, opposed to 10.5% who said this was acceptable.
Leftist Coalition on the rise
If parliamentary (PLC) elections were held and the Palestinian Democratic Assembly, a coalition of leftist political parties established in late 2018, ran, they would receive 9.9% of the votes, while 34.8% said they would vote for Fatah and 12% for Hamas. 31.1% said they would not vote at all. If elections were held without the participation of the Democratic Assembly, 35.2% said they would vote for Fatah, 12.3% for Hamas, 2.8% for the PFLP and 1.6% for the Palestinian National Initiative (PNI) while 31.3% said they would not vote at all.
Social Security is important to a majority of Palestinians
In total, 87.6 % of Palestinians say that it is important for the government to provide Social Security, such as health insurance, pension, and unemployment insurance. Asked about the reasons for the protests against the implementation of the Social Security law last year, 27.9% said it was due to a lack in confidence in the government and 25.1% argued it was due to low wages of workers in comparison to a high percentage of contributions to the fund.
Presidential elections: Marwan Barghouthi most prominent personality
If elections were held without President Mahmoud Abbas running, Marwan Barghouthi would win 12.6% of the votes, followed by Mohammed Dahlan at 8.1%, and Ismail Haniyeh at 6.3%. Meanwhile, over half of the respondents, 53.9%, said they did not know or they had no answer. The poll showed large discrepancies between electoral tendencies in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. For example, the percentage of those who did not know who they would vote for in the West Bank was more than double of those in the Gaza Strip (69% compared to 31.7%) and the percentage of those who would vote for Isma’el Haniyeh in the West Bank was 2.9% as opposed to 11.3% in Gaza. Similarly, 1.1% of those polled in the West Bank said they would vote for Mohammed Dahlan as opposed to 18.4% in the Gaza Strip.
Low trust in fairness of elections
Palestinians expressed low levels of trust in the fairness of elections. Respondents were divided between 45.1% who believe that if elections were held, they would be unfair and 43.5% who said they would be fair. Trust in the fairness of elections in the Gaza Strip was higher than in the West Bank. The percentage of those who believe elections would be fair was 51.1% in the Gaza Strip as opposed to 38.3% in the West Bank. Conversely, the percentage of those polled who thought elections would be unfair was 50.2% in the West Bank, opposed to 37.5% in Gaza.
A large majority rejects land swaps, security control or customs union in future state
The majority of those polled, 78.4%, said they would not accept any Peace Agreement that included land swaps between Israel and the State of Palestine, opposed to 17.1% who said this would be acceptable. Furthermore, the majority of respondents, 83.9%, said they would not accept any future Peace Agreement that includes continued Israeli security control over parts of the Palestinian state, opposed to 12.4% who said this was acceptable. At the economic level, the majority of those polled, 72.1%, said they would not accept any future agreement that included a customs union between Israel and the Palestinian state. Almost two-thirds of respondents, 63.4%, said it was not acceptable for any future peace deal to include the integration of Palestinian refugees in neighboring Arab countries, while 32.3% said this was acceptable to them.
Support for national reconciliation
The majority of those polled 89.6%, said that national reconciliation was important or very important, opposed to 8.6% who said it was not important. Regarding the question which side was most responsible for the persisting division, the largest percentage, 32.2%, blamed both Hamas and Fatah together while 16.1% blamed Hamas alone and 8.8% blamed Fatah alone. 21.2% blamed Israel for the persisting division.
Mixed expectations of new Palestinian government
Around one-third of those polled, 35.6%, believe President Mahmoud Abbas’ commissioning of Dr. Mohammed Shtayeh to form the new government is a positive step, opposed to 10.9% who said it was negative and 40.6% who said it was neither positive nor negative. In comparison, 23.8% of respondents said they expected the performance of the Shtayeh government to be better than that of the Hamdallah government, while 10.8% said the opposite. Almost half of the Palestinian public, 49.7%, said there would be no difference between the performances of the two governments. Regarding the public’s expectations of the new government, 36.3% of respondents said that it should improve living conditions, 16.6% said they expected it to combat corruption, 16% said they expected government reforms and 15.3% expecting it to achieve national reconciliation.
Normalization and security coordination rejected by majority of Palestinians
The majority of those polled, 73.8%, opposed the establishment of diplomatic relations between Arab countries and Israel, as opposed to 19% who said they supported this. Moreover, 60.6% said they opposed the continuation of security coordination between the PNA and Israel while 32.5% said they supported its continuation.
Palestinians support PA policy towards the United States
The poll showed that the majority of respondents, 59.3%, supported the continued boycott of the US administration by the Palestinian leadership, opposed to 30.3% who said they preferred the Palestinian leadership to be involved in diplomatic relations. If, however, the US announced its so-called “Deal of the Century”, about two-thirds of respondents, 65.3%, said they believe the Palestinian leadership should reject the plan, while 6.1% said they should accept it and 21.3% said they preferred that the Palestinian leadership negotiates over it.
Low trust in factions and personalities
Asked which political or religious faction Palestinians trust the most, 28.2% of respondents said they trusted Fatah most, followed by Hamas at 10.3%. The largest percentage, 41.1%, said they did not trust any political or religious faction. The poll also showed that 11.5% trust President Abbas the most, followed by Marwan Barghouthi with 8.4% and Isma’el Haniyeh at 6.3%, while those who said they do not trust any political or religious personality was 47.8%.