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Confidence in Iraqi Government Up in Kurdistan Before Vote

Confidence in Iraqi Government Up in Kurdistan Before Vote

by Linda Lyons and RJ Reinhart
Chart: data points are described in article

Story Highlights

  • In Kurdistan, trust in the national government increased 15 points in 2017
  • After Islamic State rout, 57% of Kurdistan residents confident in Iraqi military
  • 40% in Kurdistan approve of Prime Minister al-Abadi -- up 25 points in one year

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Before the recent clashes between Iraqi and Kurdish forces after Iraqi Kurdistan's vote for independence, confidence in the Iraqi government in the semi-autonomous region was on an upswing. Nearly half of residents in Kurdistan (49%) expressed confidence in the national government, up 15 percentage points from the previous year and higher than levels in the rest of the country (41%).

Confidence in Iraqi National Government
In this country, do you have confidence in each of the following, or not?* How about the Iraqi national government?
  2016 2017
  % Yes % Yes
Kurdistan 34 49
Rest of Iraq 43 41
*It is important to note that this survey was conducted in April and May, just before the announcement of the official referendum, which sparked a diplomatic breakdown between the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and Iraqi government leaders.
Gallup World Poll

Rather than fresh enthusiasm for the central government in Baghdad, this significant increase in confidence may partly reflect Iraq's success in nearly ridding the country of the Islamic State (IS) militant group. This change in attitudes is also evident in Kurdistan residents' mushrooming confidence in Iraq's military. Fifty-seven percent in the region are confident in the military, up 21 points from 2016 but still well below the 77% confident in the military in the rest of Iraq.

Confidence in Iraqi Military
In this country, do you have confidence in each of the following, or not? How about the military?
  2016 2017
  % Yes % Yes
Kurdistan 36 57
Rest of Iraq 77 77
Gallup World Poll

People in Kurdistan are likely weighing divergent sentiments: a century-old longing for an independent Kurdish state versus recent positive feelings toward Iraqi institutions for their military accomplishments. Kurds often refer to themselves as the world's largest ethnic group without a homeland of their own -- but after the IS began taking control of large swaths of Iraq in 2014, the Kurdistan region set aside its push for independence and ordered its military, known as the Peshmerga, to join the U.S.-backed Iraqi forces in the fight against the IS.

Last week, the Iraqi military began reclaiming parts of the oil-rich province of Kirkuk, an area that had been under control of the Peshmerga since 2014 when it was threatened by the IS. These clashes between the Peshmerga and the Iraqi military may quickly undermine any goodwill among residents of Kurdistan that had been generated by the cooperative military assault on the IS throughout the past year.

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Four in 10 Approve of al-Abadi's Job as Prime Minister

Once the IS militant group was ousted from its last urban outpost, Hawija, on Oct. 5, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced that the Islamic State would be completely defeated in Iraq by the end of this year and Iraq will regain complete control of its geographic borders. Even before this last military victory, Kurdistan residents' approval of al-Abadi had substantially improved, increasing from 15% in 2016 to 40% in 2017 -- a 25-point increase in one year.

Job Approval for Prime Minister al-Abadi
Do you approve or disapprove of the way Haider al-Abadi is handling his job as prime minister?
  2016 2017
  % Approve % Approve
Kurdistan 15 40
Rest of Iraq 37 52
Gallup World Poll


Last week's swift military surge by the Iraqi forces has resulted in their full takeover of the governorate of Kirkuk. Further, Kurdish Peshmerga are withdrawing from all disputed territories and oil fields in neighboring governorates, severely curtailing Kurds' dreams of an independent, economically viable state. However, the current show of force by the Iraqi central government could now compel the Kurdish government to work out a compromise that might maintain the geographic integrity of Iraq.

Jay Loschky contributed to this article.

Survey Methods

These results are based on telephone interviews (landline and mobile) with 1,000 adults, aged 15 and older, conducted in Iraq April 4-May 26, 2017, in Arabic and Kurdish. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points. The margin of error reflects the influence of data weighting. 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 complete methodology and specific survey dates, please review Gallup's Country Data Set details.

Learn more about how the Gallup World Poll works.

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