The Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) can be seen as a “republic of polling centres”. Over the past two decades, opinion polling has become an industry that attracts local, regional and international actors.
The results of these polls give an overall indication of the “public mood”, but they are not taken seriously by the key stakeholders in the processes of socio-political planning and decision making. There are merely used on an ad-hoc basis, or to make the headlines in the media particularly when they reveal interesting results related to refugee rights, one-state vs two-state debate or expected results of elections.
This should not come as a surprise to anyone, as the results of opinion polling can’t change a political system if it denies space for the voices of the people or for the “voices from below”.
For instance, despite the importance and centrality of the question “who will you elect in the next election?” in the opinion polls, only partial parliamentary elections took place in 1996 in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, and an expanded one took place in 2006 which led to the intra-Palestinian divide and fragmentation.