Local News Political Analysis

Voter Attitudes Presented to Ruling Party, Opposition

The Yemen Polling Center conveys polling data on Yemenis’ knowledge of and attitudes toward the electoral process in a two-day workshop at the group’s headquarters on Monday and Tuesday.

The presentations, more or less covering the same subject matter, was separated into two separate days in which the opposition attended the first day and the ruling party the second, so that arguments between the two factions would not break out.

In partnership with the European Union’s European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR) initiative, the “Yemen Parliament Watch” project led by the YPC aims at educating officials, civil society advocates, and average citizens on the often confusing details of the Yemeni electoral process.

Interestingly, the center’s polling revealed that barely half, or 54.9% of respondents believe that elections bring about actual positive change in Yemen.  These and similar results tended to show a significant, if not overwhelming confusion about the details of the electoral system in the country and consensus over its ideal conduct.

Significant discrepancies were also reported over the single constituency system (or “winner-takes-all,” “first past the post”) as opposed to the use of proportional representation – a primary bone of contention between the ruling party and the opposition.

Opposition Islah party MP Abdul Razaq al-Hababi, in attendance at the conference, offered his interpretation of the results and advocated for a system of proportional representation. “The electorate lacks education,” he said.

“If the voter knows that his vote might not have any effect, he lacks encouragement and inspiration to participate in the process.  The single constituency system ignores people’s votes, while proportional representation gives them confidence that their votes will come to something.”

Along the same lines, Sameera Abdullah of the al-Yemeniyya newspaper spoke up in favor of a change in the electoral rules toward proportional representation.  “Now, the tribes can assure the results they want with their weapons; the real issue here is that of force.”

She continued, “A proportional representation system has the ability to reduce this influence, and has the potential to give the most marginalized segments of society, like women and the akhdam, more of a voice.”

Table 7: Does one have the right to vote if ….?

AnswerMaleFemaleAll
Not registered in Voters log18.320.519.4
Accused in a case connected to honesty and honor36.535.936.2
Yemeni Jews62.735.148.9
Resides outside Yemen68.860.464.6
He or she is married to a foreigner83.465.774.6
Not a member of a political party90.982.286.6
Belongs to marginalized groups (such as Khaddams)93.981.387.6
Women in general95.195.595.3
Does not own anything (poor)97.895.596.6

Table 22: Why won’t you participate in the upcoming elections?

AnswerMaleFemaleAll
No use of the upcoming elections44.428.933.9
Elections does not concern me33.330.331.3
Not registered… does not have elections ID2.813.29.8
Family objections013.28.9
Outcome is known already16.73.98.0
Others2.83.93.6
Refused to Answer03.92.7
Feared of Problems02.61.8
Total100100100

Table 20: Will you vote for a candidate….?

MaleFemaleAll
Of your political party59.460.660.0
A member of your family is convinced of22.149.135.6
You believe the candidate would win31.236.133.6
You think more people are voting for 25.030.627.8
Your close friend if convinced of21.134.127.6
You would get a favor in return11.419.915.7
You got money or 5.910.18.0

Table 39: Which Electoral System is better for Yemen?

AnswerMaleFemaleAll
Proportional List System45.145.145.1
Current Electoral System41.73839.8
Does not Know 4.514.19.5
A combination of both systems8.62.85.6