Bethlehem - Ma'an Exclusive - Sixty-one percent of Palestinians are optimistic about Hamas-Fatah reconciliation and 70% say they will vote in elections scheduled for next year, according to a new opinion poll commissioned by Ma'an.
The poll was carried out, in partnership with the Palestinian Center for Research and Cultural Dialogue (PCRD), in anticipation of the upcoming Palestinian reconciliation talks in Cairo in July. The poll shows that, even in the aftermath of the Israeli attack on Gaza, a form of optimism prevails in the Palestinian street.
With a sample size of 1360 adults (850 in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, 510 in Gaza), the poll posed questions about a wide range of issues including democracy in Palestinian society, good governance, political issues, and media. The survey was carried out from 12-14 March 2009.
The poll showed that 48% of respondents believe that the most important feature of democracy is the ability to change the government through elections. Twenty-nine percent said that "freedom to criticize rulers" is the second most important feature of democracy.
. 22.0% of the respondents believe that the status of democracy in Palestine is good, whereas 45.0% believe the opposite.
. When asked on the relationship between democracy and religion, 19.0% believe the two are contradictory, whereas 36.5% believe they are conciliatory, 18.5% complementary. 26% believe there is no relationship between them.
The poll also asked Palestinians their views on elections and the political system:
. 45% of the respondents reveal that the mixed system (proportional representation and constituencies) is the best electoral system in Palestine as opposed to 21.0% who believe that the proportional representation is the best electoral system.
. 70% of the respondents say they will cast their ballot in the next elections.
. 60% believe that the next elections will be impartial.
. 61% say they are optimistic regarding the intra-Palestinian dialogue in Cairo.
Also, 29.3% of the respondents said they support Fatah, compared to 17.5% who said they support Hamas. 34.2% said they support none of the political parties.
Support for the political factions broke down as follows:
1. Fatah 29.3%
2. Hamas 17.5%
3. Unaffiliated nationalists 6.1%
4. Unaffiliated Islamists 3.8%
5. Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) 3%
6. Islamic Jihad 2.2%
7. The Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) 1%
8. Palestinian National Initiative (PNI - Al-Mubadara) 1.6%
9. Palestinian People's Party (PPP) 1%
10. None of the political parties 34.2%
The poll also showed a high degree of support for increased transparency in the Palestinian political system. For example, 75.0% believe that candidates in the next elections are obliged to disclose the financial resources used to pay for their campaign. 58% believe that it is their right to have access to the annual budget of the Palestinian government.
A near majority of 46.3% said they had heard or learned about people who bribed Palestinian officials in exchange for services; 50.7% said they had not.
Only 9.8% said civil society groups play a large role in monitoring the Palestinian Authority and holding it accountable, compared to 30.4% who believe that these groups play a small or very small role regarding this matter.
Regarding media, Al-Jazeera was the most-watched television news source (55%), followed by followed by Al-Arabiya (11%) Hamas' Al-Aqsa (10%), and the PA's Palestine TV (9% ).
Among the respondents, 96% have a telephone, 57% live in a households with a computer, 32% have internet, 73% have a radio, 93% have a satellite dish, and 26% have an antenna for local TV stations.
The poll also addressed Ma'an's reach as a news network.
. 22.9% state that they have already listened to Maan radio network.
. Ma'an's website is the most browsed sites among 15 international and local sites (68%) followed by that of Al-Jazeera (58%), then Al-Quds daily newspaper site (55%). These percentages include those who said they browse these sites to a very high degree, to a high degree, and to a moderate degree.
. 73% of those who use the internet in Palestine browse Ma'an's website.
. 94% of those who browse Ma'an's website state that its form and content either highly appropriate or appropriate.
. 63% of the respondents who browse Ma'an website believe it is unaffiliated to a political party, whereas 23% believe the opposite, and 15% do not know.