EGYPT: Polls find economy major concern, few support theocracy
Babylon & Beyond Blog
By Molly Hennessy-Fiske

According to a poll released Sunday, a minority of Egyptians support the Muslim Brotherhood, the once outlawed Islamist movement, and less than 1% favor an Iran-style Islamic theocracy.

The Gallup poll conducted after former President Hosni Mubarak was ousted Feb. 11 found 69% of Egyptians want religious leaders to have an “advisory role” in creating the country’s new legislation, but a majority do not want a theocratic government. Only 15% said they support the Muslim Brotherhood. More than 60% reported no political preference.

Gallup researchers surveyed 1,000 Egyptians ages 15 and older between late March and early April. The poll had a margin of error of 3 percentage points.

The results run counter to what many political analysts have observed: that the Muslim Brotherhood has been consolidating support and is likely to sweep parliamentary elections in September.

The poll results, skewed by undecided voters, indicate that if parliamentary elections were held now, the Brotherhood would not win control of the country’s governing body.

Despite recent sectarian violence following the revolution that toppled Mubarak, the poll showed strong religious tolerance in Egypt, with Egypt and Lebanon the most likely in the Middle East to “welcome a neighbor of another faith.”

The poll showed half of all Egyptians believe the economy is worsening. Yet, the majority are optimistic about their political and economic future, according to the poll.

A second poll, conducted in April by the Washington DC-based International Republican Institute, showed that economic issues were most important to more than half of those surveyed, and more than 80% rate the economy as poor. More than one-third of those surveyed said they have trouble feeding themselves and their family or providing for the most basic needs, according to the study, also released Sunday.

Institute researchers questioned 1,200 Egyptians. The poll had a margin of error of 2.78 percentage points.

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