The Arab World Institute for Research and Development (AWRAD) last week released an online experts poll on the October 8 municipal elections, with results that reflect a balance between Hamas and the PLO, with additional play for clan candidates and leftwing groups.
AWRAD presents itself as a pioneering research, consulting and development firm based in the Palestinian Authority. Its website claims AWRAD is one of the Arab region’s leading firms providing a full range of consulting and technical services for sustainable development and state building.
Below are the results of an online study conducted August 12-18 2016, among 205 experts in local government, each knowledgeable of political and social circumstances as they pertain to the upcoming local elections, October 8, 2016. The poll was completed through a representative sample of experts across all 16 districts of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip. Participants included journalists, community activists, businesspeople, university professors, political activists, local governance experts, as well as lawyers, medical doctors and engineers.
Less than a majority of respondents believe that the scheduled local elections are important; the rest believe that they are somewhat important or not important. Only 47% are confident the elections will be held as scheduled. Only 20% of respondents believing the elections will improve the prospects for national reconciliation. 59% believes that the decision of Hamas to participate is a positive development for overall local Arab interests, while 38% believe it is either negative or of no consequence.
A majority expects that the elections will be open and transparent, with only 20% expressing doubt.
The largest plurality of experts believes that the most important issue at stake in the October election is the regular practice of democratic processes. The second most important issue is delivery of services.
Party affiliation and familial allegiance are the two factors that experts believe will exert the greatest influence on voters. The experts think the “moral reputation” and “professional competence” of the candidate do not play as significant a role in their chances as to which family they belong.
Survey respondents predict an overall turnout rate of about 60 percent. They also anticipate a tight race between Fatah and Hamas in Judea and Samaria and in the Gaza Strip. The two parties will likely share about two-thirds of the seats with, the remainder split among independents and leftwing parties.
Following are the questions and responses as reported by AWRAD:
1. In your opinion, how important are local elections scheduled for October 8, 2016?
Somewhat Important 26.3%
Somewhat unimportant 14.2%
Not important 11.1%
2. Do you believe the elections will actually occur as scheduled?
Don’t know 21.1%
3. Do you believe that the planned local elections will improve the prospects to achieve reconciliation?
will not make a difference 30.5%
Don’t know 2.1%
4. On a local level, what is the most important issue at stake in the October elections?
Communal relations 4.2%
Delivery of services (water. sanitation, electricity, education, healthcare) 37.4%
Local policing and security 1.6%
Regular practice of democratic processes 46.3%
Don’t know 10.5%
5. In your opinion, is the decision by Hamas to participate in the elections a positive or negative development for overall Palestinian interests?
Of no consequence 30.0%
Don’t know, no opinion 2.6%
6. Which of the following factors will have the largest influence on voters in the local elections?
Family/tribal affiliation of candidates 36.8%
Party affiliation of candidates 37.4%
Moral reputation/ethics of candidates 11.6%
Professional competence of candidates 12.6%
Don’t know/NO answer 1.6%
7. Do you expect the elections to occur in an open and transparent manner?
Don’t know 15.3%
8. So far, what is your evaluation of the Central Election Commission in managing the local election?
Don’t know 8.4%
9. As of today, what is your estimation of the voter turnout rate?
Average opinion: 60.0%
10. Based on your expert opinion, if you were to predict the distribution of seats among the following political parties in the October elections, what percentage of seats would you give to each in Judea and Samaria?
Independents/non-aligned with parties 19.4%
Other nationalists/leftists groups 9.1%
Other Islamist groups 4.4%