49% choose Saleh, 30% Bin Shamlan, survey finds [Archives:2006/981/Local News]

September 14 2006

By: Adel Al-Khawlani
SANA'A, Sept. 13 ) According to a public opinion survey, 49 percent of Yemenis surveyed want General People's Congress candidate Ali Abdullah Saleh to lead the country in the next presidential term.

Thirty percent of those surveyed declared that they'll vote for Joint Meeting Parties presidential candidate, Faisal Bin Shamlan, while nearly 14 percent stated that they haven't yet decided who to vote for Sept. 20. A further 5.3 percent refused to answer.

Independent contenders for Yemen's highest political post, Fatahi Al-Azab and Ahmad Al-Majidi, received 1 and 0.4 percent of votes, respectively, while National Opposition Assembly candidate Yaseen Abdo Sa'ee received no votes.

Of those surveyed, 86.3 percent confirmed that they'll vote in the Sept. 20 presidential and local elections, 6.5 percent said they'll boycott the elections and 6.8 percent said they're unsure whether they'll vote or not.

Survey results revealed that more than 53 percent of the sample expects voting fraud in the elections. Similarly, 53.5 percent expect violence in the elections.

Nearly 79 percent of those surveyed mentioned that they'll refuse any bribe offered to them in exchange for voting for a particular candidate, while 14.6 percent declared that they might accept the offer, but will vote for the candidate with whom they're satisfied, not the one offering the bribe.

Sixty-six percent of those sampled are pessimistic that next week's elections will help create a better future for Yemen; 20 percent somewhat agreed that the nation's future may improve and the current situation might change, while 5.8 percent said there will be no change and the situation may even go from bad to worse.

The survey disclosed that 89.4 percent of the sample knows the GPC, the ruling party, while only 51.9 percent know the JMP, which is attributed to the fact that the coalition of opposition parties only recently was formed.

Another survey of voters' attitudes toward local elections and candidates found that 40 percent support GPC candidates running for local council posts. Twenty-three percent backed local council candidates belonging to the Islamic Islah Party and 22 percent said they haven't decided yet, while the remaining 15 percent supported candidates affiliated with other opposition parties like the Yemeni Socialist Party and the Nasserite Unionist Congregation Party.

Conducted by the Yemen Polling Center (YPC) and funded by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI), the surveys involved a randomly-selected sampling of 1,000 registered male and female voters from six governorates: the capital city, Aden, Taiz, Hadramout, Dhamar and Amran.

Prior to conducting the surveys, research supervisors divided every Yemeni governorate into four clusters, randomly choosing one governorate from each cluster. The capital city and Aden purposely were selected because both cities are home to different social groups from various areas nationwide.

Conducted Sept. 1-9, survey results were announced Wednesday at a Sana'a symposium.

The YPC, which implemented the project, is a non-governmental organization specializing in conducting public opinion surveys, research and studies. Established in December 2004, it's run by prominent Yemeni journalist Hafez Al-Bukari and numerous academics, researchers and journalists.