Gallup: Poverty as Political Flashpoint

Nov 27, 2012

            Over 80 percent of respondents in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Tunisia hold their governments responsible for helping the poor, according to the results of a new poll by Gallup. But respondents provided differing reviews of their respective governments’ social assistance programs. The poll is part of a larger study by the World Bank on social safety nets in the Middle East. The following are excerpts from the poll results, with a link to the report overview at the end.

Many Do Not View Government Social Assistance as Effective

            Residents in the four countries surveyed give mixed reviews on their respective governments' efforts to help the poor. Egyptians and Lebanese are most critical about their governments' current efforts, with 21% of Lebanese and 30% of Egyptians believing that their government is somewhat or very effective in assisting the poor. Jordanians (66%) and Tunisians (62%) are more positive about how effective their governments are at assisting the poor.

            Poorer residents in Jordan and Tunisia are less convinced than are wealthier residents about their governments' effectiveness in helping the poor. These differences highlight that the people most in need of social assistance in these countries are the least satisfied with their governments' efforts to help them…

Awareness of Social Assistance Programs Lowest Among the Poor

           Awareness of available social assistance programs varies by country, but is consistently lowest among the poor -- those in the lowest income quintile. To gauge awareness of the availability of social assistance programs, respondents were first asked if they could spontaneously name any existing social assistance program in their country. Then, respondents were asked if they recognized any social assistance programs from a list of several programs read to them…

           In all four countries, poorer adults were generally less likely than better off respondents to know about available social assistance programs -- even though they are, in theory, these programs' intended beneficiaries. This reveals that more outreach may be necessary to increase the poor's awareness and participation in existing social assistance programs.

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The Islamists Are Coming is the first book to survey the rise of Islamist groups in the wake of the Arab Spring.  Often lumped together, the more than 50 Islamist parties with millions of followers now constitute a whole new spectrum—separate from either militants or secular parties.  They will shape the new order in the world’s most volatile region more than any other political bloc. Yet they have diverse goals and different constituencies. Sometimes they are even rivals.

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