Executive Summary of Arabic Opinion Index poll with more results to be released (although there is apparently a 90-page document sent out to researchers)....
The survey in question was conducted during 2011 in 12 Arab countries: Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Mauritania, Morocco, Palestine (the West Bank and Gaza), Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tunisia and Yemen. It was carried out via multi-staged cluster samples representative of the societies included, with a margin of error not exceeding 3.5 percent. Overall, some 16,173 respondents were interviewed, with the assistance of several Arab research centers.
Support for Arab Revolutions
Most Arab citizens support the Arab revolutions:
- 70 percent of respondents supported the protests that ended the rule of former Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali,
- 80 percent express support for the protests which ousted former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
- (Respondents in Saudi Arabia were not asked their opinion of the Egyptian revolution; likewise, respondents in Sudan were not asked about either the Egyptian or the Tunisian revolutions.)
- The vast majority of respondents from Egypt and Tunisia said they believed that within three years, their countries’ situations would be better than they were during the reigns of Mubarak and Ben Ali.
The survey’s results show democracy to be well-rooted in Arab public opinion. Most respondents (81 percent) were able to detail a meaningful, substantive type of democratic system which they would accept as fitting their needs.
Arab citizens focus on political aspects when defining democracy: the respondents emphasized the following as important to the functioning of a democracy:
- political pluralism,
- the protection of political and civil liberties
- social justice
- transfer of power,
- 12 percent of respondents emphasized the importance of matters related to economic and social development, security and stability in democracy.
- More than two-thirds support a democratic system and see it as the best system, “even if imperfect”,
- 15 percent of respondents oppose democracy
- However, 36% wouldn't support those whom they disagree with in political platform to take power
- Most respondents described themselves as either “very religious” or “religious to a certain extent,”
- 71 percent report that their interactions with others – economic, human, political or social – are not affected by whether or not their interlocutor is religious non-religious (whether or not that person is religiously observant
- A strong plurality, 47 percent, supports the argument that “religious practices are private practices and should be separated from public life and politics,” against 38 percent who oppose it.
- Public opinion regarding this principle of the separation of religion from politics is divided, as shown by the survey results, despite the fact that the same principle is strongly in evidence when it comes to practical demands: two-thirds of respondents, as reported above, being opposed to the idea of clerical interference in politics, rejecting the idea that clerics be able to influence voting by the public or matters of government policy.
- 77 percent express confidence in their armies,
- half feel the same about their countries’ general security apparatus (a term which is variably the police or the state security services).
- 57 percent expressed confidence in the judicial system
- less than half of respondents have confidence in their governments (47 percent)
- 36 percent express confidence in the parliaments
- 30 percent were satisfied with their parliaments (however, to put this in perspective about 11% of Americans approve of their parliament – “congress” – performance http://ow.ly/9A99a)
- 31 percent of respondents see their countries’ economic policies as taking their views into consideration
- 34 percent believe that their countries’ foreign policies express their opinions.
Corruption and fairness
- 83 percent feel that financial and administrative corruption is very widespread, as opposed to only 4 percent who believe that it is not prevalent,
- Most respondents expressing the view that their countries’ legal code is not equally applied to all citizens (“justice is not blind” in Arab countries, one could say).
- (71 percent) believe that the population of the Arab world represents a single nation,
- 50% firmly believe that that the peoples of this nation are distinguished from each other by particular characteristics and features
- This contrasts with a mere 17 percent of respondents who see the various peoples in different Arab states as being tied by only weak, tenuous bonds.
- Public opinion in the Arab region largely supports an increase in cooperation among Arab countries; additionally, it supports taking necessary actions that are unifying in nature, including the establishment of joint Arab military forces, in addition to individual countries’ respective armies, the abolition of customs and tariffs on trade among Arab countries, and the unification of monetary systems with the aim of creating a single Arab currency.
- 84 percent believe that the Palestinian cause is an issue which unites all Arabs, not only the Palestinians.
- The perception of a single nation is reinforced by the ability of most respondents (81 percent) to name countries that represent a source of threat to the security of the Arab homeland; there was little notable opposition to the concept of there being a possible threat to something like the “Arab homeland,” serving to further highlight the acceptance of Arab-ness amongst the people of these countries.
- 73 percent of respondents believe that Israel and the United States are the two countries that most threaten the security of the Arab world
- Followed by Iran at 5 percent (further reinforces tons of polls that point to the same – the Shiite/Sunni divide, in my opinion, is largely driven by governments and not so much the people)
- 84 percent reject government recognition of Israel, including in countries whose governments have signed peace agreements w/ Israel, while only 10 percent support it
- Arab-Israeli peace agreements enjoy support from just 21 percent of respondents