Support for Muslim Brotherhood wanes among Egyptians

Distrust of Morsi continues to bring people into streets

CAIRO - Three years after Tahrir and one year after the presidential election, President Morsi’s support has narrowed dramatically among Egyptians. Dr. James Zogby, Arab American Institute President and founder of Zogby Research Services (ZRS), has released a new comprehensive opinion survey on Egyptian attitudes toward the Muslim Brotherhood. Surveying 5,029 Egyptian adults nationwide and conducted between April 4th and May 12th, 2013, the poll is the most extensive study of Egyptian public opinion.
One year ago, 57% of Egyptians said Morsi’s victory was either “a positive development” or “the result of a democratic election and the results need to be respected.” Today, that support has dropped to only 28% - almost all of it coming from his own party. Morsi has lost the rest of the country. As a result, more than 70% of Egyptians are dis¬satisfied with Morsi’s policies and his performance.
When asked to consider their reaction one year ago when Morsi won the presidential election, a majority (57%) say they either saw it as a positive development (22%) or could respect the result as it was a demo¬cratic election (35%).
From today’s vantage point, however, that number has declined to 28%, with half of all respondents seeing Morsi’s election as a setback for Egypt. The number of those who say they are resigned to the fact that nothing will change in Egypt doubles (from 10% to 21%) when perspective shifts from the time of the election to today—an especially worrisome sign.
In the major cities and in the tourist areas, concern that Morsi’s election was a set-back is quite high (58%), while fewer than one in ten respondents in these areas say it was a positive development. Among Christians, just 5% view Morsi’s election as a positive development and another 5% respect the election result, while 64% are concerned that it was a set-back for Egypt.
Overall, only about one-quarter of Egyptian respondents are satisfied and almost three-quarters are dis¬satisfied with the performance of the Morsi government with respect to guaranteeing rights and freedoms, creating economic opportunity, maintaining safety and order, and providing social services (e.g., health care, education, etc.).
The poll shows that Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party has the confidence of just under 26% of all Egyptian adults. The major opposition groups (the National Salvation Front and the April 6th Movement) combined have a larger support base of almost 35% of the adult population.
The remaining almost 40% of the population appear to have no confidence in either the government or any of the political parties. The problem is that the opposition is disorganized and lacks clear leadership.
A divide across religious and ideological lines is palpable. Muslims are more than three times as likely as Christians to see themselves as better off now (30% vs. 9%), with more than eight in ten Christian respondents saying they are worse off (81%). Among Egyptians, there is near universal confidence in the army (94%). The only consensus point on the way forward for Egypt is to convene "real national dialogue.”
What our findings reveal is a deeply divided society fractured not along demographic lines, but on the basis of ideology and religion. The two main Islamic parties (the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party and the Nour Party) appear to have the confidence of just under 30% of all Egyptian adults.
The major opposition groups (the National Salvation Front and the April 6th Movement) combined have a somewhat larger support base claiming the confidence of almost 35% of the adult population, while the remaining almost 40% of the population appear to have no confidence in either the government or any of the political parties. They are a “disaffected plurality.”
These three groups define the deep divide that manifests itself on most issues. For example, more than 90% of those who identify with the Islamic parties say they are “better off” today than they were five years ago, while more than 80% of those associated with the opposition and the “disaffected plurality” claim that they are “worse off.” And while the overwhelming majority of those associated with the Islamic parties retain hope in the promise of the Arab Spring, the rest of the society now says they are disappointed.
The very same gap between these groups can be found in response to most other questions: support for the constitution; confidence in the Morsi government; the performance of the government in providing eco¬nomic opportunity and needed services, guaranteeing freedom, and keeping the country safe. In almost every one of these areas, only about one-quarter of the electorate expresses some degree of approval with the actions of the government, while almost three-quarters disapprove—with the support for the govern¬ment coming almost exclusively from those who express some confidence in the Islamic parties and the rest of the population nearly unanimous in their disapproval.
Among Egyptians, there is near universal confidence in the army (94%). The judiciary also receives high marks from all groups (67% overall), though confidence is about 10-15 points higher among those who express confidence in the OO than among those who identify with the IT and the SDP.
Opinion is split on the public’s confidence in the police (52% vs. 48%), though majorities of subgroups tend to have confidence. Interestingly, those who identify with the IT and those who have confidence in the National Salvation Front have similar opinions about the police (57-59% confidence vs. 41-43% no confidence), while those who have confidence in the April 6th Movement and the Silent Disaffected Plurality display more ambivalence toward the police (about 50-50).
However, major political parties and groups as well as the presidency itself are not trusted by the Egyptian public, with more than seven in ten respondents saying they are not confident in the presidency (71%), the Freedom and Justice Party and the Muslim Brotherhood (74%), the National Salvation Front (78%), the Nour Party (71%), and the April 6th Movement (75%).
Those who live in Upper Egypt and in agricultural areas are about twice as likely as those in the major cit¬ies and in tourist areas to express confidence in the presidency (approx. 35% vs. 16%), in the Freedom and Justice Party and the Muslim Brotherhood (approx. 34% vs. 15%), and in the Nour Party (approx. 37% vs. 17%).