Public Attitudes on the Eve of Morsi’s Fall
The degree of uncertainty that prevailed in Egypt’s political scene during the last ten days of June has certainly been unprecedented. The expectations of the political elite, both those occupying the seats of power and those standing on the front lines of the opposition, are wildly divergent. Everyone misread the popular reaction.
By Magued Osman August 12 2013 Twitter Facebook Email Print The degree of uncertainty that prevailed in Egypt’s political scene during the last ten days of June has certainly been unprecedented. The expectations of the political elite, both those occupying the seats of power and those standing on the front lines of the opposition, are wildly divergent. Everyone misread the popular reaction—one that is characterized by a large degree of variation and polarization—that paved the way for the events currently being witnessed by Egypt.
The Egyptian Center for Public Opinion Research, Baseera, has systematically conducted opinion polls during the last week of every month, and disseminated its findings to all media outlets irrespective of their political or ideological inclination. Thus, we have been able to ensure that the results reach ordinary Egyptians citizens at the same moment that they reach both governing and opposition elites. Given the particular importance of the moment—the first year of the first president elected after the January 25th Revolution—Baseera has taken great care to measure the president’s performance at the governorate level. This has necessitated the trebling of the sample size from 2,000 interviews in previous surveys conducted throughout the year, to approximately 6,000 interviews.
In addition, three Media institutions—the Al-Shorouk newspaper, Al-Hayat TV, and Al-Jazeera TV—requested that we conduct an opinion poll during the last ten days of June, to provide their readership/viewership with empirical data on public opinion trends. The questions in each of these surveys varied, an issue that was not difficult to arrange given the multiplicity of difficult questions that impose themselves on the political scene.
What follows are the most noteworthy results from the four surveys, with no commentary attached. I leave it to the reader to interpret these findings as they appear to him or her.
Evaluation of Morsi’s Performance
1. A decline in the proportion of those who approve of the president’s performance to 32 percent, compared to approximately 42 percent at the end of May, and 78 percent by the end of his first one hundred days in office.
2. A widening of the gap between those who approve and disapprove of the president’s performance to 29 percentage points, by the end of June (32 percent approve versus 61 percent who do not).
3. A drop in the percentage of those willing to re-elect Morsi to just 25 percent, with a particular decline among youth (19 percent compared to 30 percent among those above the age of 50).
4. Wide variation among governorates in terms of the proportions who intend to re-elect the president (ranging from 11 to 43 percent). The governorates wherein less than 20 percent would re-elect him include Port Said, Damietta, Suez, Alexandria, Daqahlia, Cairo and Kafr Al-Sheikh. In contrast, the proportion of respondents willing to re-elect the president rose to above 30 percent in the more peripheral governorates of Assyuit, Sohag, Beni Suef, Qena, Aswan, Minya and Fayoum.
5. In a related context, 64 percent of respondents perceived the Muslim Brotherhood’s governance as being worse than they had expected; 15 percent replied that it was as they had expected; 8 percent replied that it exceeded their expectations.
The Political Crisis
1. Eighty-four percent of Egyptians believe that Egypt is in the grips of a political crisis, with the perception reaching 92 percent among university-degree holders. In an attempt to identify Egyptians’ expectations of how this crisis might be resolved, early presidential elections was the most frequently cited response. The other most popular responses, respectively, were military intervention, the formation of a Presidential Council and the continuation of the president’s term.
2. Regarding expectations of the country’s situation had the transitional period continued over the last year with the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces in power, 53 percent replied that the situation would be better, 10 percent that it would be no different, and 18 percent that it would be worse.
3. When asked about the likelihood of resolving the crisis by conducting elections to appoint a parliament, opinions were divided. The biggest proportion (36 percent) opined that it would not be enough, compared to 21 percent who expected the elections to resolve the crisis, and 27 percent who answered that it would depend on the composition of such a parliament.
4. Asked about the reason for Egypt’s instability, 43 percent blamed the ‘counter-revolution.’ While the definitions of counter-revolution differed, the majority of respondents tied it to the ruling regime prior to the outbreak of the January 25th revolution.
June 30th Demonstrations
1. Thirty percent of Egyptians replied that they intended to participate in the June 30th demonstrations, while 6 percent stated that they were unsure, and the remainder of respondents replied that they would not participate. The proportion of those planning to participate among youth, however, was 40 percent.
2. When asking respondents about their support for the Tamarod (or Rebellion) campaign versus the Muslim Brotherhood’s counter-campaign, results indicated that 39 percent support the Rebellion Campaign, 6 percent support the counter-campaign, and 35 percent support neither. In urban areas, the percentage of support for Rebellion rose to 49 percent.
3. Thirty-nine percent of respondents believe that the crisis would not be resolved without violence and fatalities; 23 percent replied that June 30th will witness demonstrations and nothing more, and 12 percent said that the demonstrations would lead to the ouster of the president. The perception that the demonstrations would result in violence was greatest among university graduates and urban residents.
I believe that a careful and objective reading of these results point to the missed opportunities that, had they been taken advantage of, would have allowed Egypt to side-step consequences—of which their impact remains unclear. More importantly, these results make it clear that Egypt does not belong to any one faction. The seat of power must be wide enough to hold all.
Magued Osman is the CEO and managing director of the Egyptian Center for Public Opinion Research, Baseera. This article originally appeared in Al-Shorouk.