Iraqis Show Optimism About the Future and Strong Support for Democracy

September 7, 2004
 
Washington, DC – Recent public opinion survey (PDF)  conducted by IRI show Iraqis to be surprisingly optimistic about their future and much stronger supporters of democracy than many new reports would lead you to believe.
 

More than 51 percent of Iraqis polled felt that their country is headed in the right direction, up slightly from IRI's May/June poll (PDF).  More telling, the number who feel that things are heading in the wrong direction has dropped from 39 percent to 31 percent over the same time period.

Some of this confidence may be a result of wide public support for the Iraqi Interim Government.  Prime Minister Allawi holds an enviable approval rating, with 66 percent rating him as either very effective or somewhat effective.  Likewise, President al-Yawer enjoys the support of 61 percent of Iraqis polled who say that they completely trust or somewhat trust him.

In a stunning display of support for democracy and a strong rebuttal to critics of efforts to bring democratic reform to Iraq, 87 percent of Iraqis indicated that they plan to vote in January elections.  Expanding on the theme, 77 percent said that regular, fair election" were the most important political right for the Iraqi people and 58 percent felt that Iraqi-style democracy was likely to succeed.

Looking forward to the drafting of the new constitution, a cumulative 67 percent place a strong importance on the preservation of a unified state, with 56 percent citing this as issue of primary importance.  On the role of religion in determining the new constitution, while support for Shiri'a law is strong at nearly 70 percent, there is divided opinion on whether the government should create a secular state that respects the rights of all religious, tribal and ethnic groups with 49 percent agreeing and 40 percent disagreeing.

Support for political parties remains largely undefined with 80 percent not identifying with any political party. In determining who they would support, a large plurality of Iraqis, nearly 45 percent, say that a militia attached to a political party would make them less inclined to vote for that party.  Only seven percent indicated that the presence of a militia would make them more inclined to support a party.  Among those polled, religious leaders enjoyed the support of 30 percent as possible election candidates, with university professors (24 percent) and party leaders (16 percent) rounding out the top three preferences. Iraqis further indicated a strong preference for modern (64 percent) versus traditional (18 percent) candidates, while also preferring religious (69 percent) candidates to secular (24 percent) ones.

Continued polling is planned on at least a monthly basis as IRI continues its work in developing political parties in anticipation of the January elections and helping the Interim Government to be responsive to citizen's needs.

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