6 Key take away from the survey findings:
1. Approval Rating of Imran Khan Drops
According to a Gallup Pakistan Political Weather Report survey conducted at completion of 12 months since GE 2018, PTI government and Imran Khan faces an aftermath of difficult Budget 2019, with Imran Khan’s job approval rating dropping from 58% in April 2019 to 45% in this latest survey, a significant 13% drop in a matter of 2 months.
Negative Net Approval Rating: For the first time in at least 24 months, Imran Khan’s popularity rating is now in the negative i.e more people disapprove (53%) of his performance than those who approve (45%).
Drop is long term: May be not?
This drop in approval rating could very well be short term, Gallup Pakistan cautions. Historical analysis of public opinion suggests that post budget, especially those under the IMF programmes (in which significant new taxes are implemented), approval ratings drop but then rise if economy stabilizes. In other words, it is uncertain if this is a long term drop or just a short term negative assessment by the voters. Gallup Pakistan aims to track the PM approval ratings in coming months and would be sharing the results periodically.
2. Pessimism sets in regarding Direction of the Country
Moreover, the overall sentiment in the country has become pessimistic, with a majority 57% Pakistanis expressing the view that the direction of the country is not correct.
3. IMF programme criticized
Only 1 in 3 Pakistanis believe that going to IMF was a correct decision and a significant majority disapproving of the decision.
4. PTI retains its Voter Base as the single largest political party
Despite all these setback, Imran Khan led PTI is still the single largest party when it comes to voting intention. In the survey, respondents were asked ‘If elections were held, which party would you vote for’, with 31% PTI was ahead, followed by PML-N at 28% and PPP at 15%.
In GE 2018, PTI had achieved 32% vote, PML-N 24% and PPP had 13% vote.
Whereas, there is negligible difference in PTI vote bank since the General Election almost 12 months ago (1% decline is statistically insignificant), rise in PML-N (4% rise) is significant, which has led to closing of the gap between the two parties.
A positive sign for PTI is that for majority of PTI supporters, the direction of the country is correct, thereby showing that PTI’s voter base is strong and still stands behind the leadership. Another sign of significant long term success for PTI is that close to 47% Pakistanis support PTI narrative of honesty being more important than short term delivery. Both these signs point to a long term stability in PTI retaining its vote bank and possibly expanding in coming months. In other words, some of the negative readings in the current Political Weather report may wither away. However, time would tell which way the current turbulence goes vis-a-vis public opinion.
5. Support for Anti-Corruption Arrests High
Whereas approval rating of the PM takes a hit, anti-corruption policy seems to resonate well with only 22% saying they were upset with Zardari’s arrest and 29% saying they were with Hamza Shahbaz’s arrest.
6. Democracy vs other rules
Most Pakistanis still support democracy over other forms of system with 59% saying Democracy is better than other forms of government.