A public opinion poll on voting intentions in the upcoming legislative elections that was conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR) in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip showed that Fateh movement made further gains. A total of 1316 adults interviewed December 6-8, face to face in 118 randomly selected locations. According to the poll that was supervised by Dr. Khalil Shikaki, PSR director, the results were:

* If elections are held today, findings show that 78% of the Palestinians would participate (compared to 74% last September). * Among those intending to participate in the upcoming parliamentary elections, 50% will vote for Fateh, 32% for Hamas, 9% for other factions and groups including independents, and 9% remain undecided. Last September, Fateh received 47% of the vote, while Hamas received 30%, others factions 11%, and 11% were undecided. In the Gaza Strip, vote for Fateh increases from 47% to 53% during the same period.

* Poverty/unemployment is the most serious problem confronting Palestinians today in the eyes of 37% of the public, followed by corruption and Israeli occupation measures (25% each), and finally internal anarchy and chaos (12%). Last September, poverty/unemployment received 40%, occupation and corruption received 25% each, and internal anarchy received 8%.

* From among a list of eight vital considerations for voting in the parliamentary election,

# 1 is the ability to fight corruption receiving 30%,

# 2 the name or party affiliation of the list with 15%,

# 3 and 4 ability to improve economic conditions and ability to reach a peace agreement with Israel with 13% each,

# 5 ability to maintain national unity with 9%,

# 6 ability to enforce law and order with 8%,

# 7 ability to protect refugee rights in negotiations with 7%, and finally

# 8 ability to insure the continuation of the intifada with 4%. This order is similar to the September findings with the exception of the first consideration which three months ago received 24%.

* In a detailed comparison of the ability of the different groups to deliver on seven of the vital voters’ considerations, Fateh is seen as the most able in five and Hamas in two. These results are similar to those we obtained last September with Fateh widening the gap against Hamas in its favor.

Fateh is perceived as the most able to improve the economy (receiving 50% vs. 30% for Hamas), to push the peace process forward (receiving 66% vs. 21% for Hamas), to protect national unity (receiving 47% vs. 36% for Hamas), to protect refugee rights (receiving 48% vs. 36% for Hamas), and to enforce law and order (receiving 56% vs. 31% for Hamas). Hamas is perceived as the most able to fight corruption (receiving 48% vs. 36% to Fateh) and to insure the continuation of the Intifada (receiving 64% vs. 24% to Fateh).

* Public satisfaction with the performance of PA president Mahmud Abbas stands at 62% compared to 64% last September. In this survey 34% say they are not satisfied with Abbas’ performance. * In a closed question, in a contest for the office of PA president between Mahmud Abbas, Mahmud Zahhar, and Mustafa Barghouti, Abbas comes first with 41% followed by Zahhar with 21% and Barghouti with 19%. These results are similar to those obtained in our last poll in September.

* In another closed question with a list of 8 candidates, in a contest over the office of vice president, Marwan Barghouti receives the greatest level of support with 30% followed by Mohammad Dahlan with 14%, Ismail Haniyyah (13%), Mahmud Zahhar (11%), Mustafa Barghouti (8%), Saeb Erikat and Farouq Qaddoumi (6% each), and finally Ahmad Qurai (3%). The percentages for the September poll were as follows: 24% for Marwan Barghouti, 9% for Dahlan, 13% for Haniyyah, 14% for Zahhar, 9% for Mustafa Barghouti, 6% for Erikat, 8% for Qaddoumi, and 6% for Qurai.

* In a closed question with a list of five candidates, in a contest over the office of prime minister, Marwan Barghouti comes first with 36% followed by Zahhar with 20%, Mustafa Barghouti with 14%, Dahlan with 11%, and Qurai with 6%. Last September, Marwan Barghouti received 30%, Zahhar 22%, Mustafa Barghouti 17%, Dahlan 8%, and Qurai 8%.

* Among the whole population (those intending and those not intending to participate in the elections), support for Fateh reaches 45% and Hamas 28%. Last September, support for Fateh stood at 39% and Hamas at 27%. Support for Fateh in the Gaza Strip increases from 40% to 49% during the same period.