Moussa leads presidential race at 31.5 pct, but 57.6 pct of Egyptians prefer an Islamist: Poll

Ahram Online, Monday 2 Apr 2012

Al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies publish results for March's poll showing former foreign minister Amr Moussa is still in the lead, although Salafist candidate Abu-Ismail is catching up

Amr Mossa
Amr Moussa (Photo: AP)

Al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies published the results of their March public survey collating a national sample of 1200 citizen's opinions on the upcoming presidential elections.

Using the same methodology as a similar poll, pre-parliamentary elections last October, the results show that although the list of preferred candidates has barely changed, voters opinions have shifted slightly.

The questionnaire did not force a list of candidates but rather asked individuals to name their preference.

It is important to note these results do not take into consideration the recent announcement of the Muslim Brotherhood chosen candidate: Khairat El-Shater.

It also does not include former vice-president and longtime head of Egyptian General Intelligence of Intelligence Omar Suleiman's expected statement that he will run for presidency. Therefore, caution must be taken when drawing conclusions from these results.

Out of the voters who had already made up their mind, Mubarak's foreign minister and former Arab League chief, Amr Moussa, remained on top with 31.5 per cent of the votes. However, this is down 10 per cent from last year. In the October survey Moussa secured 41.1 per cent.

Second on the list is Salafist candidate Hazem Salah Abu-Ismail who received 22.7 per cent of the votes, which is five per cent less than last October.

Mubarak's last prime minister, Ahmed Shafiq, and Mubarak's right-hand man, Omar Suleiman, came after Abu-Ismail with 10.2 per cent and 9.3 per cent respectively. Both maintained the same percentages as October but fell into third and fourth positions behind the Salafist contender.

Former Muslim Brotherhood member Abdel-Moneim Abul-Fotouh closely followed with 8.3 per cent of the votes. Then came founder of the leftist Al-Karama Party, Hamdeen Sabahi (five per cent), Islamist lawyer Mohamed Selim El-Awa (four per cent) and current Prime Minister Kamal El-Ganzouri (three per cent).

The former minister of information, Mansour Hassan, who has since withdrawn from the race, scored just two per cent of the votes.

At the tail end is El-Ghad Thawra Party founder Ayman Nour, opposition figure Mohamed ElBaradei (who will not run) and Judge Hisham El-Bastawisi with less than one per cent each.

Second and third-choice questions were also put to each participant: they were asked who they would vote for if their preferred candidate was not running.

Results showed if Moussa was not an option, his voter-base would generally go for Ahmed Shafiq or Omar Suleiman. This implies these voters are looking for figures with experience, even if they are part of the previous regime.

Similar results were true for those who preferred Shafiq or Suleiman, proving the relationship pattern.

For Abu-Ismail voters, the second choice was Abul-Fotouh, followed by Amr Moussa, then Ahmed Shafiq.

Whereas Abul-Fotouh supporters considered Abu-Ismail their second choice, followed by Hamdeen Sabahi. This is slightly off-trend but shows a degree of diversity among the voters in this category.

El-Shater’s name appeared amongst the longer list. However, as he scored less than one per cent, he was consequently not included in the top 13 candidates.

As for the qualifications required for the post, 78.6 per cent preferred an independent (non-partisan) candidate, while 56.2 per cent wanted someone with experience in government. 26.7 per cent wished for a candidate with a military background.

Only 17.2 per cent of voters nominated opposition of the previous regime as a required qualification. 57.6 per cent requested a candidate with an Islamist background, 16 per cent an Arab nationalist, only 8 per cent required a liberal candidate and 7 per cent a socialist one.

The last question was related to the responsibilities of the coming president.

The question was phrased "whether you prefer the president to be honorary, only have external responsibilities, or to have both external and internal responsibilities." Based on these three choices, over 95 per cent preferred the fully presidential system.

In all cases, high turnout is expected. 94.5 per cent of the respondents expressed an intention to vote during the presidential elections, compared to only 75 per cent who said in October's poll that they would participate in the parliamentary elections. 20 per cent had yet to make up their mind about a preferred candidate. 

Given the recent changes to the political landscape with the late entries of El-Shater and potentially Suleiman, it will be interesting to see the results of the upcoming survey taking this into consideration.

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