Thursday, March 26, 2015

Iraq: Confident In PM And Government, But Hesitant About Economy


Gallup just released a new public opinion poll of Iraqis that was conducted at the end of 2014. 1,003 Iraqis from all of the country’s provinces were asked three questions about their confidence in the new Prime Minister Haider Abadi, what they thought of the government overall, and their opinion of the economy. Both the premier and government got high marks, but many Iraqis believed that the economic situation in the country was deteriorating.

The first question was did people approve or disapprove of the prime minister. Haider Abadi received a 72% positive rating. This was across the board with 78% in Baghdad, 78% in the south (Basra, Dhi Qar, Maysan and Muthanna), 74% in the mid-Euphrates (Najaf, Babil, Wasit, Qadisiyah, and Karbala), 72% in what Gallup termed the “Sunni Heartland” (Anbar, Kirkuk, Diyala, Ninewa, and Salahaddin), and 53% in Kurdistan (Irbil, Dohuk, and Sulaymaniya). That topped Maliki’s numbers who had a 50% approval rating in May-June 2014 and a 51% in September-October 2013. Maliki got especially low scores in Kurdistan and the Sunni Heartland with 12% and 30% respectively in May-June 2014. Maliki was in a two year dispute with the Kurdistan Regional Government over its oil policy, and his attempt to arrest Finance Minister Rafi Issawi set off a year long protest movement, which accounts for his low scores in those two parts of the country. The only area where Maliki did better than Abadi in the last two surveys was in the Mid-Euphrates where Maliki received 77% and Abadi 74%. Otherwise the country seems pretty happy with the change in leadership and the premier’s statements about reconciliation appeared to have won over a majority of every section of Iraq.

Do you approve or disapprove of the way _ is handling his job as prime minister

Maliki
Maliki
Abadi

Sep-Oct 2013
May-June 2014
Nov-Dec 2014
Iraq Overall
51%
50%
72%
Baghdad
57%
54%
78%
South
68%
77%
78%
Mid-Euphrates
69%
77%
74%
Sunni Heartland
40%
30%
72%
Kurdistan
13%
12%
53%


The second issue in the Gallup poll had to do with the central government and whether people had confidence in it or not. Again, the numbers were higher compared to the two previous surveys. For the country overall, 60% said they had confidence in Baghdad. Even 51% in the Sunni heartland and 55% in Kurdistan had a good view. In the previous poll from May-June 2014 only 43% were confident in the government, and 50% in September-October 2013. In the former approval ratings were as low as 40% in Kurdistan and 30% in the Sunni heartland. Again, Maliki’s policies were likely responsible for the low numbers in the 2013 and mid-2014 surveys, and the change in government has led to new optimism reflected in the newest results.

Do you have confidence in the national government or not?

Sep-Oct 2013
May-June 2014
Nov-Dec 2014
Iraq overall
50%
43%
60%
South
54%
53%
66%
Baghdad
45%
44%
65%
Mid-Euphrates
55%
54%
63%
Kurdistan
41%
40%
55%
Sunni heartland
52%
30%
51%


Finally, Gallup asked Iraqis about whether they thought the economy was getting better or worse. The good feelings expressed in the first two questions were not replicated in the third where 56% said things were going badly, with only 37% saying better, and 5% saying the same. In June 2014 Iraqis were split with 45% saying things were better and the same number saying worse, while in October 2013 48% said things were worse, and 43% better. The drop in oil prices, which Iraq is dependent upon, and the subsequent budget problems the country is going through was likely a major factor. The war and massive displacement of people, has also increased jobless and poverty rates in Iraq adding additional pressure to an already troubled economy.

Do you think the economic conditions in Iraq as a whole are getting better or getting worse?
Oct 2013
June 2014
Dec 2014
48% getting worse
45% getting worse
56% getting worse
43% getting better
45% getting better
37% getting better
6% same
6% same
5% same


SOURCES

Owen, Travis and Fakreddine, Jihad, “Iraqis Have High Hopes for New Prime Minister,” Gallup, 3/19/15

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