Press Release: ATFL-Sponsored Zogby Poll Indicates Crisis of Confidence Among Lebanese
Washington, DC, November 15, 2021 (ATFL) – The American Task Force on Lebanon (ATFL) released a poll on November 9, 2021,”Crisis of Confidence: Lebanese Reflect on their Crisis, their Institutions, and their Future.” Co-sponsored with the Moise A. Khayrallah Center for Lebanese Diaspora Studies at NC State University, the opinion poll was conducted by Zogby Research Services. The poll report, “Crisis of Confidence,” can be found here along with a visual presentation of select responses, and the video of the virtual session.
Participants in the program included Ed Gabriel and Jean AbiNader of ATFL; James Zogby of Zogby Research Services, the poll director; Paul Salem, President of the Middle East Institute; Mona Yacoubian, Senior Advisor to the Vice President of Middle East & Africa at the United States Institute of Peace; and Akram Khater, Executive Director of the Khayrallah Center.
Several results illustrate the deprivations that the Lebanese people have experienced since the last poll was conducted in 2019, and their perceptions of what lies ahead. Almost 9 in 10 said they were worse off than five years ago. They reported being impacted by shortages in fuel (97%), electricity (89%), and drinking water (74%). More than one-third of those interviewed said they have gone without food on some occasions. And almost two-thirds said that they would emigrate if they had the opportunity.
A clear 97% of respondents reported wanting a full investigation and accountability for the explosion at the Port of Beirut. When asked to prioritize which issues were of most concern to them, the majority of respondents identified corruption as Lebanon’s top problem. In an assessment of confidence in institutions among the Lebanese, Parliament (29%) and traditional political parties (19%) received the lowest marks while the Lebanese Armed Forces ranked highest with 89% approval.
Perceptions of the US were mixed in the poll. For example, when asked which country the Lebanese would like to deepen ties with, France (49%) was the clear favorite whereas the US (33%) scored similar to Russia (31%) and Iran (34%). However, when asked where they would prefer to emigrate, if given the chance, the US (28%) was their clear preference.
The Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) scored well in the poll. A majority of Lebanese (63%) also responded that it should be the only armed actor in the country. This should be reassuring to the US as the main supporter of international assistance to the LAF.
On the subject of the anticipated March 2022 parliamentary elections, there is some optimism with 57% believing that the elections “will bring the political change Lebanon needs.” However, this is likely correlated to the finding that 66% say that they will vote for the “new alternative parties,” and only 20% are willing to support the traditional parties. These responses are supported by the 58% of respondents who reject the sectarian formula for power distribution enshrined in the Taif agreement. As Dr. James Zogby said, “if the 2022 elections don’t result in some change, Lebanon could go from its breaking point to broken.”
“This poll presents important findings for policy makers in the US and the international community, as well as the country’s leadership. Prime Minister Najib Mikati received a 54% confidence rating and should take this signal as an endorsement for moving forward with the IMF to make life more livable for the Lebanese,” remarked ATFL President Ed Gabriel. “The Lebanese people are clearly hurting and possess little confidence in the Lebanese government to meet their needs. Fighting corruption, protecting human rights, and making sure that free and fair elections occur in March are key steps in the coming months.”
The American Task Force on Lebanon is 501(C)3 nonprofit organization of prominent Americans of Lebanese heritage, who educate for the strengthening of the historic U.S.-Lebanon relationship. The mission and objectives of ATFL shall always be in the best interest of the United States and will promote the national unity, independence, and prosperity of a democratic and multi-sectarian Lebanon.