Yemenis ignorant of election date, survey finds [Archives:2006/961/Front Page]

July 3 2006

Adel Al-Khawlani
SANA'A, July 4 ) According to a public opinion survey on Yemeni citizens' electoral awareness and elections participation, 75 percent do not know when the upcoming presidential and local elections will take place.

The survey found that 74 percent prefer a man of good reputation to run for president in the upcoming election while 66.3 percent favor one who abides by religious principles. Forty-eight percent say they'll support the candidate whose electoral program addresses issues associated with the country's poor living standards.

Seventy-one percent of those sampled hold the view that poverty is the most persistent problem Yemen faces, followed by high unemployment and administrative and financial corruption.

The survey indicated that 79.5 percent of Yemenis have reached legal voting age and have voting cards; however, only two-thirds say they'll vote in upcoming presidential and local elections.

Fifty-four percent of the nation-representative sample are of the opinion not to participate in September's presidential and local elections, predicting that the voting results are known in advance and there will be no strong competition. They complain of being dissatisfied with the candidates and are convinced that the country's economic, political and social situations won't change.

The survey revealed that voter turnout drops over time, as 43 percent of eligible voters mentioned that they didn't vote in the most recent elections, compared to 54 percent planning not to participate in upcoming elections because they are dissatisfied with the performance of their constituency representatives in Parliament and on local councils.

Asked about their family living standards, 21 percent of those sampled explained that they don't have enough money to buy food; 29 percent pointed out that they have money for food, but can't cover the costs of medicine and clothing and 32 percent said they have money for food and clothing, but nothing to spare, compared to only 13.6 percent who can spare some money or buy expensive things.

Results of the survey, conducted by Yemen Polling Center (YPC) and funded by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), were discussed in a seminar at Hadda Hotel Tuesday in the presence of political party representatives and civil community organizations.

“The survey results are very important to different political parties and organizations interested in democracy because the Yemeni electoral process still is one of the most controversial issues at the local level and regionally,” YPC President Hafez Al-Bukari said, addressing attendees.

He added that the political parties' controversy over the election's credibility is sharp due to the nature of Yemen's political regime, coupled with lack of electoral awareness among citizens.

“The upcoming elections are due to witness a totally different atmosphere from what was perceived in previous polls, which is why the YPC felt it's very important to conduct such a public opinion survey,” Al-Bukari continued.

The survey was conducted on a sampling of 100 respondents in six governorates: the capital of Sana'a, Sa'ada, Ibb, Taiz, Hodeidah and Hadramout, selected randomly, except for Sana'a, which was selected intentionally due to its significance and being home to those from various rural and urban areas.

Researchers grouped Yemen's governorates into five clusters: north, south, east, west and central, and one governorate was chosen randomly from each cluster using a computer program.