OPINION POLL SAYS “NO!” [Archives:2001/08/Front Page]

February 19 2001

During the last few weeks, Yemen Times carried out a public opinion poll of thousands of Yemenis from different regions and cities including Sanaa, Taiz, and Aden and other regions which came up with the following results: 80% of the people are willing to participate in the local elections, while 20% are in favor of boycotting them. According to the poll results, more than 37% will vote for PGC members, 26% for Islah, 18% for the YSP, 3% will vote for all the other parties including the Nasserite, RAI, Baath, and other less popular parties, while 16% will vote for independent candidates. 
As for the constitutional amendments, around 85% will be voting, of which only 35% will say “YES”, while 65% will say “NO” to the amendments. 
The most interesting thing that Yemen Times discovered during the opinion poll was that more than 95% of the people to whom we talked knew about no more than two or three of the 17 amendments. This is due to the lack of time for proper preparations for the elections to ensure a truly efficient awareness campaign. 
More drastic than that is the fact that some of the candidates we interviewed for other survey purposes had no clear idea about what their responsibilities will be. Some of them could not distinguish between province and governorate memberships. The most disappointing of all is that the Supreme Elections Committee failed -perhaps due to the time shortage- to conduct a proper awareness campaign regarding the constitutional amendments and the local council elections. 
The people surveyed were from various sectors of the community including politicians, intellectuals, students, newspaper sellers, businessmen, government employees, small business owners (supermarkets, stationaries) and even some shepherds. Of the ones who agreed to participate, around 20% saw the elections as a waste of time and money. One newspaper seller said, “I will not leave my profitable work at the elections day because I would do better for myself when I sell newspapers on that day rather than go to a the election as newspaper sales will probably increase on that day.” Most of the 80% were not quite happy with the preparations and crazy campaigns taking place, but all were willing to participate in the elections. Almost all of the ones we surveyed said that the PGC will take most of the seats easily, as it has all the means to do so. 
Two major conclusions were observed in the process regarding constitutional amendments: 
1-The illiterate and uneducated people admitted that they had no clue what the constitutional amendments were all about, but they will vote “YES” to them as they watch on TV and hear from Radio many slogans and songs in favor of the amendments. This is a significant indication of the official media’s great influence on the common simple man of the less educated sectors of the community. 
2-Educated figures, including politicians, intellectuals, and students said that the amendments were not demanded by the public but are rather in the interest of some individuals, particularly regarding the extensions of the periods of the president and parliament members. They openly said that they will reject the amendments and say “NO” as they see them as a step backwards in the democratic process. 

Important Note 
The above mentioned opinion poll was based on random sampling and reflects the opinions of only those literate Yemeni citizens in major cities in Yemen who agreed to give their opinion. Taking into account the fact that most Yemenis are illiterate and live in rural areas, the actual outcome could be totally different or similar to the current. These results cannot be assumed to represent the opinions of the millions of Yemenis who will actually vote in the elections and referendum in general, nor the public as a whole.