Friday, May 23, 2014

Opinion poll: No more that just over half of Egyptians think favorably of Sisi

The Pew Research Center, which conducts public opinion surveys around the world, published results of a survey of Egypt a few days ago, which are somewhat unexpected and very interesting, to say the least. The survey,  based on face-to-face interviews conducted between April 10 and April 29, 2014, among a representative sample of 1,000 randomly selected adults from across the country, among other things reveals that a majority of Egyptians are still in favor of democracy. Although down from 66% percent last year (and 71% in 2011), still a considerable majority of  59% say it is the best form of government. However, within the past year support has declined for some key pillars of democracy, like free speech, freedom of the press, and honest, competitive elections. And when asked which is more important, a democratic government, even if there is a risk of instability, or a stable government, even if there is a risk it will not be fully democratic, a narrow majority (54%) chooses stability, while 44% say that democracy should be the number one priority. (Last year it was the other way round: 51% prioritized democracy, 43% said a stable government is more important).
These last figures are almost equal to the percentage that supports last July’s military takeover: 54% favor it; 43% oppose it. And again: this corresponds roughly with the popularity of Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, the former general, who is almost certain to be Egypt;s next president and who was the man behind last year’s overthrow of the government of Mohammed Morsi. Sisi receives a favorable rating from 54% of Egyptians, while 45% view him unfavorably. And this is a much more mixed review than media reports from Egypt over the last year might suggest.
As for former Mohamed Morsi, the deposed ex-president, his ratings keep declining. Last year 53% expressed a favorable opinion of him,. now it is 42%. Ratings for the Brotherhood have also dropped, but it remains to be a force to be reckoned with, as about four-in-ten Egyptians (38%, down from 63% last year) still continue to have a positive view of the group, which has been banned by the current regime.
Attitudes toward other institutions in the country have also turned more negative over the last year. Most notably, support for the military is down. Fifty-six percent say the military is having a good impact on the country and 45% say it is having a negative influence. A year ago, 73% described the military influence as positive and 24% as negative. In a 2011 poll, conducted weeks after the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak, 88% gave the military a good rating, while only 11% assigned it a negative one.
The image of the courts, which have issued numerous controversial verdicts in the past year, has also suffered. Now, just 41% believe the court system is having a positive impact on the country; 58% say the impact is negative. Last year, opinions were the exact opposite: 58% saw the courts positively, 41% negatively.
The poll also finds that relatively secular and liberal leaders and groups receive mostly poor ratings. Hamdeen Sabahi, often described as a Nasserist or leftist politician, and the only major figure challenging Sisi in the presidential race, is seen favorably by just 35% of Egyptians, down from 48% in 2013. Attitudes towards Mohamed ElBaradei, a former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency who supported the removal of both Mubarak in 2011 and Morsi in 2013, have soured steadily since 2011. Then, 57% had a positive opinion of ElBaradei; currently, just 27% hold this view.
Meanwhile, the April 6th Movement, a largely youth-led, relatively secular group that was active in the Tahrir Square protests that led to Mubarak’s downfall, has seen its positive rating fall to 48%, compared with 2011 when seven-in-ten Egyptians regarded the group favorably.
Dissatisfaction is widespread. By a 3-to-1 margin, Egyptians are more dissatisfied (72%) than satisfied (24%) with their country’s direction. Last year already 62% was dissatisfied. Now the numbers are roughly the same as it was before the revolution that removed Mubarak.
(For the full report about the survey, click here) 

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