Concerns over unemployment, service delivery, corruption remain
The Iraqi public’s outlook improved significantly between October 2011 and April 2012, according to a survey conducted last spring. A plurality of Iraqis (48 percent) said they believed that Iraq was heading in the right direction—an 11 point jump from the October survey. The results also found, for the first time since the current research series began, that a majority of Iraqis (52 percent) rated the country’s economy as strong and a majority (53 percent) gave Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki a positive job approval rating. The survey was conducted April 5-20 across Iraq by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner (GQR) and NDI and builds on four previous polls conducted since 2010.
While the majority of participants surveyed expressed positive sentiments about Iraq’s recent developments, the survey identified several issues that could temper this increased optimism:
More than half of the participants surveyed (55 percent) named jobs and unemployment as one of the two most important issues for the government to address; basic services, such as electricity and water, placed second at 42 percent. While results indicated an overall positive shift in the country’s mood, large majorities of Iraqi citizens saw both job opportunities and electricity supply as getting worse.
Among Iraq’s largest ethnic or religious groups, Sunnis expressed the most negative sentiments. The survey found that 66 percent of Sunnis saw Iraq heading in the wrong direction, with only 26 percent expressing support for the way the country was headed. In another sign of Sunni pessimism, 58 percent of Sunnis viewed Iraq as a divided, rather than unified, country—compared to 35 percent of the overall population.
Growing tensions between Baghdad and Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdish region threaten to exacerbate divisions within the country. Amid strong economic growth, a majority of Iraqis living in Kurdistan (65 percent) saw the region heading in the right direction; only 26 percent, however, saw the country as a whole moving in the right direction. The survey indicated that just 30 percent of the residents of Kurdistan saw Iraq today as a real democracy, representing a dramatic 38-point drop since last year.
- Across the board, Iraqis expressed openness to opposition parties playing an active role in providing alternatives to government policies. Eighty-nine percent of Iraqis said they would feel more favorable toward an opposition group that would “closely monitor the government’s actions and make public any missteps, bad policies, or corrupt practices.” And 88 percent would feel more favorably toward an opposition group if it “proposed alternative policies for creating jobs, providing basic services, and fighting corruption.”
NDI and GQR began polling the Iraqi public in November 2010 and have shared findings with political parties, government and civic groups to help them meet the needs of Iraq’s citizens. In briefings in Iraq, advisers from NDI met with party and government leaders to present the nationwide results. Iraqi leaders hope to use the findings to develop policies that better address citizen priorities, improve communications and messaging, and respond to citizen expectations for government reform.
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Published Oct. 23, 2012