Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Gauging Arab public opinion

A new, comprehensive poll illuminates Arabs' opinions on democracy, corruption, Palestine/Israel, and the US.

By Marwan Bishara

"The first of its kind - a poll conducted in 12 Arab countries, representing 84 per cent of the population of the Arab world, in an attempt to gauge the region's political mood - has arrived at some interesting results.

Organised by the Arab Centre for Research and Policy Studies (ACRPS), face-to-face interviews by Arab surveyors with 16,731 individuals in the first half of 2011 revealed majority support for the goals of the Arab revolutions and notably, for a democratic system of government.

The countries surveyed included Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Jordan, Palestine, Lebanon, Sudan, Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco and Mauritania, with the help of local institutions and research centres.

While people seem generally split on the question of separation of state and religion, a majority supports the non-interference of religious authorities in politics.

And by a 15-1 ratio, Israel and the US are seen as more threatening than Iran. However, this ratio is lower among those living in proximity to Iran.

Opinions differ on certain issues from country to country and region to region, but there's clearly a trans-national, trans-border public consensus when it comes to questions of identity and national priorities.

The data generated by the poll, the largest conducted so far in the region, is a treasure trove for those looking to better understand the political environment in the Arab world......"

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