WASHINGTON, D.C. -- While it is uncertain what government will emerge in Yemen as President Ali Abdullah Saleh recovers in Saudi Arabia from serious injuries, Gallup surveys amid the recent unrest suggest Yemenis want to see one that tackles corruption within its ranks. Seven in 10 Yemenis polled in February and early March said government corruption is widespread.
Like many of their Arab brethren who took to the streets in other countries this spring, the thousands of Yemenis who have protested since early February list government corruption among their key grievances. The grand patronage network that exists in Yemen has helped keep Saleh in power for more than 30 years, but it has also contributed to the country's weak growth and intense poverty -- another of the protesters' major grievances.
Saleh's government has in recent years pledged to make fighting corruption a top priority, but the average Yemeni continues to see little tangible progress. The proportion of Yemenis who believe government corruption is rampant has remained in the 70% or higher range for the past four years. Although these figures have remained consistently high, they are not the highest in the world and are similar to percentages Gallup has measured elsewhere in the region. For instance, 75% of Iraqis polled in February and March of this year said corruption was widespread in their government.
Furthermore, Yemenis who thought at one time that the government was doing enough to fight corruption either do not think so now, or have become more uncertain. A slim majority of Yemenis (51%) said in 2009 the government was doing enough to fight corruption, but by this spring that number has fallen to 34%.
Thousands of Yemeni protesters kept up their calls this week for the country's acting president to form a transition council that could create a new government, but the situation remains fluid. Much of Yemen's future hinges on if, or when, Saleh returns. Regardless, Gallup's data suggest most Yemenis are unhappy with the status quo.
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Results are based on face-to-face interviews with 1.000 adults, aged 15 and older, conducted in Feb. 15-March 3, 2011, in Yemen. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±3.8 percentage points. The margin of error reflects the influence of data weighting. Earlier surveys in Yemen conducted in January 2007, March and September 2009, and February and October 2010. For results based on the total sample of national adults in these surveys, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±3.9 percentage points.
In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.
For more complete methodology and specific survey dates, please review Gallup's Country Data Set details.