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 ….?
|Not registered in Voters log||18.3||20.5||19.4|
|Accused in a case connected to honesty and honor||36.5||35.9||36.2|
|Resides outside Yemen||68.8||60.4||64.6|
|He or she is married to a foreigner||83.4||65.7||74.6|
|Not a member of a political party||90.9||82.2||86.6|
|Belongs to marginalized groups (such as Khaddams)||93.9||81.3||87.6|
|Women in general||95.1||95.5||95.3|
|Does not own anything (poor)||97.8||95.5||96.6|
Table 22: Why won’t you participate in the upcoming elections?
|No use of the upcoming elections||44.4||28.9||33.9|
|Elections does not concern me||33.3||30.3||31.3|
|Not registered… does not have elections ID||2.8||13.2||9.8|
|Outcome is known already||16.7||3.9||8.0|
|Refused to Answer||0||3.9||2.7|
|Feared of Problems||0||2.6||1.8|
Table 20: Will you vote for a candidate….?
|Of your political party||59.4||60.6||60.0|
|A member of your family is convinced of||22.1||49.1||35.6|
|You believe the candidate would win||31.2||36.1||33.6|
|You think more people are voting for||25.0||30.6||27.8|
|Your close friend if convinced of||21.1||34.1||27.6|
|You would get a favor in return||11.4||19.9||15.7|
|You got money or||5.9||10.1||8.0|
Table 39: Which Electoral System is better for Yemen?
|Proportional List System||45.1||45.1||45.1|
|Current Electoral System||41.7||38||39.8|
|Does not Know||4.5||14.1||9.5|
|A combination of both systems||8.6||2.8||5.6|