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Public Opinion Surveys: Trends in Arab Public Opinion towards Reform
Public Opinion Surveys: Trends in Arab Public Opinion towards Reform
Arab Reform Initiative
The Arab public has a very good understanding of the concept of reform and a desire to see reform measures implemented in various different areas.
Tuesday, September 22,2009 16:11
middle-east-studies.net

The Arab public has a very good understanding of the concept of reform and a desire to see reform measures implemented in various different areas. The area most in need of reform, according to the respondents, is the economy, with political reform and tackling corruption given as the next most urgent issues to be addressed. The particular circumstances of each country were reflected in the respondents’ answers. Public opinion was almost unanimous in recognising the importance of a range of different kinds of freedoms for democracy. However, its evaluation of the extent to which these freedoms are guaranteed in each country was modest, and was particularly negative concerning the extent to which freedoms relating to citizens’ participation in the political process are guaranteed. The majority of respondents said they thought democracy would lead to increased stability, and that although reform of the economy was their priority, that political reform would improve the economic situation of their families. Public opinion’s evaluation of the fairness of the legislative elections was modest, and its evaluation of the performance of the parliamentary councils was generally negative. While the respondents were generally supportive of the rights of women and religious minorities, the desire of the majority that there should be only one interpretation of Islam suggests that reforms affecting religious matters could meet with opposition.

Introduction

In recent years, the concept of reform has been the subject of much discussion in the Arab world; in the media, in politics, and by intellectual elites. However, reform is not a modern concept in the region. There have been various reformist agendas in the Arab world since the beginning of the nineteenth century, including those that gave rise to the modern Arab state.

There is much debate over what areas should have priority for undergoing reform, how reform measures should be applied, and even over the very definition of the concept of reform. The Arab Reform Initiative has carried out this survey to investigate the views of public opinion in some Arab societies on reform, both in a general sense, and in the specifically political, economic, social and cultural domains. Four countries were chosen to represent the different parts of the Arab region: Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, and Morocco. The investigation aims to give a realistic picture of these different domains and to highlight the areas that most need to undergo reform.

Until it becomes easier to investigate public opinion on matters of democratic freedoms, this survey is an indicator of the state of democracy and reform measures in the Arab region. It presents empirical information on society’s vision of reform to aid the dialogue and debate on this subject.

Full Report

tags: Democratic reform / Political reform / Political parties / Parliamentary election / Kefaya / Muslim Brothers / NDP / Middle east / Servy
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