AMMAN – Fifty per cent of mainstream Jordanians believe that the situation in the country is moving in the “wrong” direction, compared with 48 per cent who expressed an optimistic outlook, according to a recent opinion poll.
Conducted by the University of Jordan’s Centre for Strategic Studies (CSS) 200 days after the formation of Prime Minister Hani Mulki’s government, the poll showed that 55 per cent of opinion leaders consider things to be heading on the right path in Jordan, compared with 41 per cent who disagree.
The survey divided respondents into two categories: popular Jordanian — or the “national sample” — and opinion leaders.
The national sample consisted of 1,944 people above the age of 18 with an equal representation of men and women, while the opinion leaders sample included a random group of 700 people categorised into seven groups of 100 individuals, according to the centre.
Conducted between April 15 and 24, the poll involved a total of 36 researchers, with a margin of error of 2.5 per cent.
The poll covered, among others, issues of economic growth, unemployment, satisfaction with the government’s performance, national reform process, regional crises and military decisions.
Economic challenges facing the Kingdom continue to be deemed a major concern for Jordanians, with the poll showing that 26 per cent of the popular sample believe that high prices are the most pressing issue facing Jordan today, followed by unemployment (22 per cent), poverty (19 per cent) and the overall economy (13 per cent).
Opinion leaders also deem economic difficulties to be the main hurdle facing the country, although they consider the overall economic situation to be the most challenging issue, followed by unemployment (16 per cent) and poverty (8 per cent), noted CSS Director Musa Shteiwi.
“As for the government, prime minister and the ministerial team’s assessment, 43 per cent of the national sample and 49 per cent of the opinion leaders’ group believe that the government was able to successfully shoulder its responsibility so far,” Shteiwi said during a press conference held on Thursday.
Moreover, 43 per cent of mainstream Jordanians and 46 per cent of opinion leaders believe that the premier has been up to his responsibilities since his designation.
As for the ministerial team, 43 per cent of the popular sample respondents and 46 per cent of opinion leaders believe it was up to its responsibilities.
“For those who believe that the government was unable to carry its responsibilities, the main reasons they cited to support their view were the repeated increase in prices and the rise of unemployment rate (29 per cent) followed by the lack of noticeable achievements and reforms (18 per cent) and the government’s inability to fight corruption (16 per cent),” Shteiwi added.
However, opinion leaders have different views on the reasons why they believe the government to have been inefficient, he said, pointing out that the lack of tangible reforms ranked first (29 per cent), followed by the “poor” performance of the premier and ministerial team (29 per cent) and failure to address the economic challenges (17 per cent).
On the other hand, 57 per cent of the popular sample interviewees said that the economic situation of their families had worsened since last year, 32 per cent said it remained the same and 11 per cent indicated that their living conditions improved.
Forty-three per cent expect their economic situation to get worse next year, 28 per cent to remain steady and 23 per cent to get better, according to the survey.
Fifty-three per cent of opinion leaders believe that the economic situation in Jordan will worsen, 40 per cent that it will remain the same and 6 per cent project a better situation for next year.
Electricity is considered the biggest burden for Jordanian households, with 41 per cent saying that it drains the largest chunk of their budget, followed by food and beverages (31 per cent), accommodation (13 per cent) and transportation (6 per cent).
Around 83 per cent of the respondents said they had to reduce their spending to face financial difficulties, 82 per cent postponed buying “expensive” goods or services, 57 per cent resorted to borrowing, 46 per cent had to work extra time and 44 per cent asked for the help of family.
As for the local and municipal elections, 56 per cent of the national sample said they were familiar with the new Municipal Elections Law and 52 per cent with the Decentralisation Law.
Forty-six per cent of the national sample interviewees and 57 per cent of the surveyed opinion leaders believe that the Jordanian-US relationship will improve during US President Donald Trump’s term.
“Compared to the January 2017 poll, we notice a huge surge in how Jordanians perceive the new US administration, which I think has to do with His Majesty King Abdullah’s visit to the US in March,” Shteiwi said.
In January’s poll, only 29 per cent of the mainstream believed that the relationship between the two countries would witness a positive transformation under the Trump administration.
Meanwhile, a total of 57 per cent of the national sample respondents and 56 per cent of opinion leaders opposed the US air strike on the Syrian military airbase.
Sixty-five per cent of the national sample respondents believed that the government should encourage Syrian refugees to go back to their country, while 16 per cent believed that they should have the choice to decide on the matter.
Regarding terrorism, 79 per cent of the respondents believed that the actions and policies of Daesh threaten the security and stability of Jordan, while 66 per cent believed Al Qaeda to be the main threat to the country and 63 per cent considered Al Nusra as a major threat.
Thirty-eight per cent of mainstream Jordanians and 36 per cent of opinion leaders deemed air strikes to be the optimal option to counter any possible threat by terrorist groups.
In addition, 40 per cent of the average citizens surveyed and 22 per cent of opinion leaders said that they preferred Jordan to join an Arab coalition rather than an international one if the case required waging a land war, the poll showed.
THE JORDAN TIMES