PA poll: 31 percent of voters do not trust election candidates

The latest Palestinian poll, six weeks before parliamentary elections, shows that as of now the winner would be “none of the above.” The negative response came as internal violence called into question whether the vote could be held at all. The poll, released Tuesday by the Jerusalem Media and Communication Center, showed incumbent leader Mahmoud Abbas with the highest rate of trust – just 15.5 percent. Jailed Fatah young guard leader Marwan Barghouti received 7.8 percent, followed by Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar with 5.8 percent. But fully 31.1 percent said they trusted no one – with the Jan. 25 parliamentary election, the first in a decade, just six weeks off. More bad news for Abbas was the drop in his backing. In May, Abbas was polling 24.8 percent support. The JMCC survey polled 1,199 people from the West Bank and Gaza and quoted a margin of error of 3 percentage points. The poll results reflect growing dissatisfwith the disorderly preparations for the elections. Wednesday was set as the deadline for registering candidates for the election, but the disruptions raised the possibility that the date might be put off – and officials said privately that the election itself might be delayed. Abbas was to announce the list of candidates for his Fatah Party on Wednesday. Fatah leaders met late into the night to discuss their internal crisis. In recent weeks, Fatah has been embroiled in wrangling over who is to be named to the list. Where primary elections have been held, young activists have won resounding victories over the corruption-tainted old guard, associated with the late leader, Yasser Arafat. However, Gaza primaries were called off in the middle because of incidents of violence at polling stations, and Fatah leaders decided to use all the primaries as just one of the factors in deciding the list. Young activists interpreted that as a last-gasp effort by the oldtimers to push them aside and put themselves back on top. Many of the younger generation are armed members of violent groups like Al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, and on Tuesday, they used their weapons to force their way into election commission offices in several places in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, firing in the air, destroying computers and ordering workers out. In response, election commission director Amar Dweik announced, “We have suspended all work until we receive security for our offices and our staff.” Election commission head Hanna Nasser met with Abbas to discuss the crisis. Abbas pledged to protect election workers and “take required measures against the aggressors,” said Nabil Abu Rdeneh, a spokesman for Abbas. Mustafa Barghouti, a reformer heading an independent list for the election, also denounced the violence. In a statement, he said the election commission must “maintain its independence and carry out its work free from any violation.” BPI-info