16 January, 2021

Realigning Popular Support

Realigning Popular Support
For the world, Yasser Arafat is a resistant hero. But for the Palestinians, he’s a patriarch sliding downhill. Last week, Prof Khalil Shakaki’s respected Palestinian Centre for Political Research and Surveys (PCPRS) announced astounding results in an opinion poll conducted in the West Bank and Gaza—83 per cent thought the Palestinian Authority (PA) was corrupt and a failure; 95 per cent supported regular elections, and 82 per cent wanted the President (or PA chairman) to have a limited tenure. The message is clear: the Palestinians want their yet-to-be-born country to be an exception in the Arab land where despots rule till they die or are deposed in coups. Perhaps the opinion poll inspired Arafat to announce elections in winter, due for now nearly two years. It’s a tough battle ahead—the PCPRS survey showed a sharp erosion in Arafat’s popularity, with only 36 per cent saying they would vote for him, a staggering drop from the mammoth 80 per cent of votes he polled in the 1996 election.

The survey didn’t surprise Palestinians, groaning as they have been under...



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