Monday, December 26, 2005

A new survey

Al Ghad has the results of a new public opinion survey conducted by the Jordan Center for Social Studies, which is headed by Dr. Musa Shtaiwi. Last September, the center issued an opinion poll which was somewhat controversial, especially since it showed that most Jordanians support the one vote law. The new survey confirms this result. The questions asked this time were different, but the results are also interesting.

Over 70% of the respondents feel that the country is headed in the right direction. This is up 20% since the last poll. My feeling is that this is because Marouf Bakhit has conveyed as sense of calm which Badran was unable to do. People blamed Badran for the rise in fuel prices, and felt that his government was unstable after an ugly clash with the parliament.

One interesting question was about the biggest challenge facing the country. The results show that 30% felt that it was rising costs of living, 27% was unemployment, 18% was poverty, 6% was poor economic condition, and 4% was corruption. The earlier survey put corruption as the top problem at 26%. Thus, the current survey shows that 81% of people feel that economic problems are the most significant issues facing the country. I am not sure how to explain the discrepancy between the September survey and this one in terms of the importance of corruption. Has corruption been eliminated in the last three months?

As for political trends, the survey shows that 44% of people would vote for centrist parties if elections are held now, and 23% would vote for Islamists, less than 6% would vote for Arab nationalists. In the previous survey, 47% said that they would vote for Islamists. While it is tempting to conclude that the drop in the support of the Islamists might be a backlash after last month's terror attacks, I think that the earlier result was plain wrong. In the 2003 elections, IAF candidates took 16% of the votes in the districts they contested (that is, the districts they though they could win). A different survey by the Center for Strategic Studies in the University of Jordan conducted last September shows that 4% for the respondents felt that the IAF represented their aspirations, down from 6.6% in 2004 and 14.7% in 2003. While the results of the current survey seem closer to reality, they might be too high, especially since the CSS survey shows much lower Islamist support.

Other interesting results show that most people support the quotas set aside for women, Christians, Chechens and Sercassians and Bedouins (over 70% support for each category).

I found the survey interesting, but I am troubled by the level of variation seen in the results between the survey conducted last September and this one. I believe that some of the results might be taken with a grain of salt. However, it shows that Jordanians are more interested in economic and security issues than in political ones. The fact that existing political parties haven't addressed economic alternatives in a convincing matter is probably one reason why people view them so poorly. Jordanians are smart and fair. They deserve to be approached with that in mind.


At 9:25 PM, Blogger Hamzeh N. said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 9:29 PM, Blogger Hamzeh N. said...

Khalaf, I think if you're right, and Jordanians are really more interested in economic and security issues that the political ones then Jordanians don't know what's good for them.

On Naseem's blog, someone said we might need a Bill Clinton like figure in Jordan that says "It's the economy, stupid!", that is great for a country with a fully matured democratic political system like the US.

But in Jordan, we have a crippled political system. I believe Jordanians go about the democratic process the wrong way; always bypassing the parliament and going straight to the government. The parliament is like the stepping stone for a political system and we are not using it right.

I think people in Jordan should realize that as long as they don't turn out to vote for parliament, or vote according to their tribal alliances, they should not expect the economy to get better, because they should never expect their wishes to have the full impact it should on their government.

It just doesn't work that way.

At 9:59 PM, Blogger Khalaf said...

Hi Hamzeh: There is a disconnection between politics and economic policy in Jordan. In essence, political parties are not talking about real alternatives economically. Thus, both of us are right. You are right in that people don't vote for the right reasons, and I think I am right in that politicians are not trying to appeal to voters with the right message, which is the economy. Most of our politics are related to identity, and not the economy. The only people with their eye on the ball are the fat cats who are laughing all the way to the bank

At 3:47 AM, Blogger moi said...

Interesting survey. The drastic decline in Jordanian opinion that corruption is the biggest challenge (from 26% to 4%) seems really unbelievable. The only reason I can think of for this change is the November attacks. Jordanians might've felt less willing to bash the government on corruption issues because of the pro-government sentiments that followed that Amman attacks. I wonder if the organization that conducted the survey commented on this drop, from the biggest challenge to one that is almost irrelevant.


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