Were Palestinian elections to take place today, they would most likely end in a tie between Hamas and Fatah, says a poll published Tuesday by the Palestinian Center for Communications in Jerusalem. Thirty two percent of those surveyed said that they would vote for Fatah, as opposed to 30 who would vote for Hamas.
The bad news for Fatah is that this indicates a decrease of support from a previous survey and there are those in the territories who say that "Fatah wins only in opinion polls."
The survey - taken last week from among 1,200 people – illustrates that Hamas is still receiving a great deal of support, suggesting that moving up Palestinian elections could result in another Hamas victory.
An indication of this is that 19 percent of those polled stated that Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas is the Palestinian leader they most trust, in comparison to only 14.5 percent who chose Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
The leader of Tanzim (Fatah's military wing) in the West Bank, Marwan Barghouti, who in the past won several public opinion polls of this nature, fell to a mere 4.5 percent. However, he did beat Hamas' political leader Khaled Mashaal, who received only 3.5 percent support.
Feelings about the futureAbout 56 percent of Palestinians questioned are reasonably certain that the formation of a unity government is the best way to solve the current crisis in the Palestinian Authority; 15 percent think that early elections are the best option and 13.5 percent think that a complete dismantling of the PA is the way to go.
Among those surveyed, 80 percent expressed empathy for the general workers' strike, in contrast to 20 percent who do not.
Statistics were also telling regarding the Lebanon war. 76.3 percent believe that Hizbullah won the war, in contrast to 18.8 percent who believe that Israel won. 59.3 percent support transferring Hizbullah's mode of operations to the territories, while 31.7 percent are opposed to this idea.
The tie between Hamas and Fatah is the most prominent statistic of the poll. An earlier survey demonstrated Fatah bouncing back in public opinion. This is the second survey in which they come out ahead of Hamas, although Hamas members have questioned the accuracy of the surveys as truly representative of public opinion.
In recent days, Hamas officials said that they would not move up the date of elections, although they expressed confidence that they won win again, were elections to be held now.
Political commentators in the PA say it is too early to bid goodbye to Hamas, whose infrastructure is much stronger than that of the fragmented Fatah. Additionally, Fatah has yet to make internal reforms that it promised to its constituents following the most recent general elections.