Haniyeh beats Abbas in popularity poll

Hamas leader would win 47 percent of votes in a presidential election compared to 46% for Abbas.

Abbas AP 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
Abbas AP 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
A Palestinian public opinion poll published on Monday showed that Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh would defeat Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas if presidential elections were held these days in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The poll was conducted earlier this week by the independent Ramallah-based Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research. It gave Haniyeh 47 percent of the votes, while Abbas got 46%. Previous polls had shown Abbas and his Fatah party leading over Hamas. Some polls gave Abbas a 70% majority, while others gave him 55% - 65%. The last poll, which was conducted in December 2007, showed that Abbas would get 56% of the votes, in comparison with 37% for Haniyeh, if presidential elections were held then. The same poll showed that Hamas would receive 31% of the vote and Fatah 49%. The gap between the standing of Fatah compared to the standing of Hamas decreased significantly in three months, from 18% to 7%; if new parliamentary elections were to take place today, Hamas would receive 35% and Fatah 42%. This represents a significant increase in Hamas's popularity compared to December 2007. Hamas's popularity increased to 34% during the breaching of the border with Egypt during the last week of January, while Fatah's popularity dropped to 46%, the poll showed. In a comparison between Gaza and the West Bank, the poll shows that Hamas is more popular in the Gaza Strip, reaching 40%, compared to 31% in the West Bank. Fatah's popularity is also slightly greater in the Gaza Strip, reaching 43% compared to 41% in the West Bank. The poll showed that Haniyeh's government receives greater public legitimacy both in the West Bank (32% to Haniyeh's compared to 26% to Fayad's) and the Gaza Strip (37% to Haniyeh's compared to 34% to Fayad's). About 56% of the Palestinians polled said they were not satisfied with Abbas's performance as opposed to 41% who said they were happy with him. Also disturbing for Abbas is the fact that 42% of the Palestinians interviewed in the poll said they were not satisfied with the government of PA Prime Minister Salaam Fayad. Nearly half of the Palestinians said they would like to see Haniyeh continue in his job as prime minister. But the poll found that jailed Fatah leader Marwan Barghouthi would defeat Haniyeh by a clear margin. The poll gave him 57% of the vote, compared to Haniyeh's 38%. The poll covered some 1,270 Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza Strip and has a margin of error of 3%.