Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Skepticism About Mahdi Govt In New Iraq Poll

PM Mahdi (Baghdad Post)

A new poll by Al Mustakilla for Research found widespread skepticism about the government of Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi. In nearly every category the administration ranked at under 50% in approval. The poll was taken during January 2019 and included 1,300 people. The respondents were broken up into four regions. One was Baghdad. Another was the Arab North including Ninewa, Kirkuk, Salahaddin, and Diyala. The South was everything below Baghdad, and then Kurdistan.

When asked how satisfied they were with the new government all the individuals and institutions came in below 50%. PM Mahdi was at 45% and President Barham Salah was slightly better at 48%. In another question when asked to rank the government from 1 to 10 with 1 the lowest and 10 the highest, the prime minister and president received 4.6 each. The parliament was lower at 3.7, Speaker Halbusi received a 4, the ministers a 3.7 and the justice system 4.3. The mixed standing of the government with the public is probably due to the fact that it has not accomplished much since taking office. The one major act it has done is passed the national budget, which included a new deal with the Kurdistan Regional Government. That’s probably the reason why PM Mahdi had his highest response in Kurdistan at 76% versus 48% in Baghdad, 51% in the Arab north and 53% in the South. There has also been a growing cynicism about Iraq’s institutions overall no matter who is the leader.

How satisfied are you with the performance of PM Adil Abdul Mahdi?
Overall
45%
KRG
76%
Arab North
51%
Baghdad
48%
South
53%

How satisfied are you with the performance of Iraqi President Barham Salah?
Overall
48%
KRG
68%
Arab North
56%
Baghdad
45%
South
47%

On a scale of 1-10 with 1 lowest 10 highest evaluate PM Mahdi
Overall
4.6
KRG
6
Arab North
5
Baghdad
4
South
5

On a scale of 1-10 with 1 lowest 10 highest evaluate President Salah
Overall
4.6
KRG
7
Arab North
5
Baghdad
4
South
4

On a scale of 1-10 with 1 lowest 10 highest evaluate parliament
Overall
3.7
KRG
4
Arab North
4
Baghdad
3
South
3

On a scale of 1-10 with 1 lowest 10 highest evaluate Speaker Halbusi
Overall
4
KRG
4
Arab North
5
Baghdad
3.5
South
4

On a scale of 1-10 with 1 lowest 10 highest evaluate ministers
3.7

On a scale of 1-10 with 1 lowest 10 highest evaluate justice system
4.3

When asked had the government been able to take over its responsibilities yet respondents were again split. 46% said yes and 48% no. When broken down by region only Baghdad at 58% and the south at 50% seemed sure of the new administration, while Kurdistan at 38% was not.

Do you think the Mahdi government has been able to assume responsibilities so far?

Iraq
KRG
Arab North
Baghdad
South
Able
46%
38%
48%
58%
50%
Not Able
48%
43%
49%
41%
46%

With the Islamic State defeated and attempting to rebuild services are now the most pressing issue in Iraq. In that field Baghdad was seen as sorely lacking. When asked how successful the government was security had the highest rating at 52%. After that everything else was below the 50% mark with water at 48%, electricity at 33%, education at 29%, and health care and higher education at 28% each. The Iraqi government has always struggled at providing basics like electricity, so it should be no surprise that the Mahdi administration ranked so low.

How successful is the government in providing the following services?
Higher Education
28%
Health Care
28%
Education
29%
Electricity
33%
Water
48%
Security
52%

When it came to the economy people polled were again divided. When asked did they think the economic situation would get better or worse in the next 12 months 35% said it would improve, 34% said it would stay the same, while 27% thought it would get worse. Southern Iraq was the most skeptical with 33% thinking it would get worse, while the Arab North was more optimistic with 39% saying it would get better. Iraq’s economy is completely dependent upon oil. Oil prices dipped at the end of 2018, but they have since risen. The problem is that petroleum drives the macro economy, but on the micro level things like jobs and pay are not really impacted. That might explain the split responses in the poll.

Do you think the economy will be better or worse in 12 months?

Iraq
KRG
Arab North
Baghdad
South
Better
35%
38%
39%
30%
32%
Same
34%
36%
32%
43%
29%
Worse
27%
17%
26%
25%
33%

Premier Mahdi like all his predecessors said that he would combat corruption. This is in response to popular discontent and annual protests, which is expressed in the survey. 93% of respondents said they believed in the spread of corruption within the government. 64% said that graft was spreading in the local government. 55% said they believed bribes were necessary to get services. 80% said that there was large corruption within Iraq’s institutions. When asked to compare the Mahdi administration to previous ones in dealing with this issue most were very skeptical. The Arab North was at 24% saying Mahdi would do more, following by 28% in Baghdad and the South each. Only in Kurdistan at 54% did people believe things would get better. Most felt like Mahdi would do the same as previous governments rating 42%-44% in the north, Baghdad and south. That is not a ringing endorsement as officials have talked about tackling this issue far more than fighting it. That’s because corruption has been institutionalized and is part of how the government rules. The elite take from each ministries’ budget and dish out public sector jobs and services in return for support. That’s also the reason why corruption will never be seriously addressed, and explains the poll numbers.

When comparing the Mahdi government with previous ones what degree do you think the government is giving attention to combating corruption?

KRG
Arab North
Baghdad
South
More
54%
24%
28%
28%
Same
11%
42%
44%
44%
Less
8%
32%
25%
26%

SOURCES

Al Mustakilla for Research, “100 days of Adel Abd Al-Mahdi’s Government,” February 2019

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