Thursday, February 25, 2010

Feb. ’10 Iraqi Poll Finds A Divided Electorate, Support For De-Baathification

The government run National Media Center released its latest poll of Iraqis on February 23, 2010. The survey was conducted from February 1 to 15, 2010. 5,000 people were questioned across all of Iraq’s 18 provinces. 66% were from urban areas, 34% from rural ones. 53% were males, 47% were females.

On whether they would vote in the March 7 elections, 63% said they would. That compares to the 79.6% that turned out in the 2005 parliamentary elections, and 58% that participated in the January 2009 provincial balloting. Dohuk and Dhi Qar had the most respondents saying they would vote at 83% and 78% respectively, while Anbar had the lowest amount at 43.6%. In 2009, only 40% voted in Anbar, and there have been reports of dissatisfaction within the province with their politicians and the elections. When broken down by ethnicity and sect, 67% of Kurds, 63% of Shiites, and 58% of Sunnis said they would turn out.

When asked whom they would vote, those polled showed the divided nature of Iraq’s current electorate. 29.9% said they would vote for Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s State of Law list, 21.8% said they would support the National Movement of former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, 17.2% said they would choose the National Alliance of the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (SIIC) and Sadrists, 10% said they would select the Kurdish Alliance of the ruling Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), 5% said they would vote for Interior Minister Jawad Bolani’s Unity of Iraq Alliance, and the Iraqi Consensus, the successor to the Islamic Party led Iraqi Accordance Front, came in last with 2.7%. 4.9% had no opinion, while 2.2% made no response.

Who would you vote for in the 2010 parliamentary elections?
29.9% State of Law – PM Maliki
21.8% Iraqi National Movement – Ex-PM Allawi
17.2% Iraqi National Alliance – SIIC, Sadrists, Ex-PM Jaafari, Iraqi National Congress
10% Kurdish Alliance – PUK, KDP
5% Unity of Iraq Alliance – Minister Bolani, Sheikh Abu Risha’s Anbar Awakening
2.7% Iraqi Consensus – Iraqi Islamic Party
4.9% No opinion
2.2% No response
(+/- 2% margin of error)

Respondents were asked about where the political parties were getting financed, and their greatest concern was over foreign interference. 29% said lists were funded locally, 13% said that they got money from abroad, and 72% said that they were afraid of the influence of foreign funds. All of Iraq’s neighbors are believed to be funding parties in this year’s election. Those range from Iran, to the Saudis, to the Gulf States, to Turkey, etc.

Iraqis were questioned about the current deBaathification controversy, and a plurality said they supported it. 47% said they were for the Accountability and Justice Commission’s banning of candidates for alleged Baathist ties. 38% said they were opposed, and 15% had no opinion on the matter. That might reflect the fact that 60% of Iraq is Shiite, and that the Baathist card still plays well with many of them.

Last, people were asked about what they thought about Iraq’s future. 60% said they were optimistic. That follows other recent polls. A December 2009 survey by IIACSS found that 51% said that Iraq would be better in 2010 compared to 2009. Another poll from that month by YouGov reported a more mixed opinion with 46% responding that Iraq was heading in the wrong direction, while 44% said it was on the right track. 

Overall, the new poll shows the divided nature of Iraq’s politics, along with their fears and hopes. In the March 2010 election, no list is likely to walk away with a majority. Instead, the vote will be closely divided between the two or three largest alliances. That will mean another coalition government that will likely look a lot like the current one. The big question now is whether Prime Minister Maliki will be able to keep his job. Iraqis are also afraid that other countries will have undo influence on the balloting by funding their favorite parties. The anti-Baathist campaign appears to have wide support as well, and that could help bring out the Shiite vote. Finally, a majority of respondents think that Iraq is moving forward.


Agence France Presse, “Foes Maliki and Allawi top contenders in Iraq poll: survey,” 2/24/10

Farbman, Rob, “IIACSS poll shows Iraqis mostly optimistic as 2010 begins,” Edison Research, 1/6/10

National Media Center, “Latest NMC poll results,” 2/23/10

Zawya, “More Iraqis fear unemployment than security issues, YouGov Siraj research report reveals,” 1/12/10


AndrewSshi said...

Given how well the Iraqi National Movement is polling, it's a bit less surprising that Maliki and the other Shi'ite parties are screaming "Ba'ath! Ba'ath! Ba'ath!"

Are there any numbers on how many Iraqis are anti-Ba'ath based on what might be called liberal democratic principles? A whole lot of the anti-Ba'ath sentiment from Iraq's Shi'ite parties seems to be not, "Saddam was a monster," but "Saddam was a monster to us."

Jason said...

I don't know about you, Joel, but that looks like a significant improvement over the current parliament: 1) 56% in the hands of nationalists (Maliki, Alawi, Bolani) bodes ill for aspirations to carve up Iraq into autonomous regions or for a breakup. 2) 56% in the hands of less-sectarian groups (I think Maliki's return to sectarianism is election year theater). 3) Maliki would appear indispensable to forming govt, giving him top shot at PM. I may be dreaming, but I think it is entirely conceivable that a post-election alliance between Maliki-Alawi could form a new cross-sectarian, nationalist, more-secular govt, with less Iranian strings attached. I would applaud such a result as success.

Jason said...

I'm definitely daydreaming now for a strong Maliki-Alawi govt, with Maliki as PM and Alawi at his choice of Interior or Defense. Bring the Kurds and INA to heel. What is the likelihood?

Joel Wing said...


No, none of the polling I've seen ever asks about people's motivations if they are anti-Baathist. It definitely works in the south though for a variety of reasons, and the provinces are now running with it, kicking out suspected Baathists and even arresting some.


The big rumor going around Iraq right now is that Iran has thrown their lot behind Allawi and that he will be supported by the National Alliance to replace Maliki as prime minister. Have no idea whether that's true or not.

Who will ultimately become prime minister is likely up to the Kurds. They are still a large and cohesive group unlike the Shiites and Sunnis right now, so whoever they throw their weight behind will likely be able to put together a new ruling coalition. Maliki and Hakim have both been courting them this year.

Jason said...

Remind me again, how many votes are necessary to put a government together? Simple majority? Or more?

Joel Wing said...

I think it's just a majority.

bb said...

The Prime Minister requires an absolute majority (ie 50% of the parliament seats plus one) for his government to be approved.

bb said...

btw, by my calculations those responses only add up to 93.7%. What happened to the other 6.3%? Is that covered by "others"?

also I think the Kurdish Change party is contesting this election for first time. Have you any info on that?

Joel Wing said...


I would assume the remaining amount would be smaller parties. I found two articles on the poll and I mentioned all the numbers they had.

And yes the Change list is running in the 3 Kurdish provinces, Tamim and Ninewa. Don't know if they're running in Diyala or Salahaddin.

The campaign has been heated and Change constantly complains about being harassed. I had that article on a curfew that was imposed in Sulamaniya because of the clashes.

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