Zogby Poll of Lebanese Opinion

Earlier this morning, I noted that comparing the size of the marches protesting and supporting Lebanon’s government was problematic and that we didn’t have polling data to help us. Commenter JakeV noted that, indeed, John Zogby has surveyed the population of Lebanon. The poll, released yesterday, doesn’t quite answer the question I’m asking but it’s interesting nonetheless. Of course, as with all polls taken in societies without strong democratic traditions, some skepticism must be applied when reading the results.

[T]he demonstrations don̢۪t tell the whole story of what is happening in Lebanon today. A recent poll of 1,250 Lebanese, representing all religious groupings in the country, establishes that while an emerging consensus exists on some questions, on several key issues a deep sectarian divide still plagues the country. And these must be tended to if Lebanon̢۪s unity and internal security are to be insured. The poll was conducted during the last week in February 2005 by a Lebanese polling firm, Information International, in conjunction with Zogby International.
How best now to proceed with securing Lebanon? Only Maronites see a Syrian withdrawal as key with one-half agreeing with this as the solution. About one-third of Shia and Sunnis and less than one-fourth of Orthodox agree. Many Lebanese, in particular Orthodox, Sunni, and Shi’a, see the solution to Lebanon’s security in “reinforcement and deployment of the Lebanese army and security forces all over Lebanon.†And while 60% of Druze see the disarming of Lebanon’s militias as necessary for the country’s future, only about one in seven Maronites, Orthodox, and Sunni agree. Not surprisingly, only 5% of Shia agree, since the “disarming†provision of UNSC 1559 specifically has Hizbollah in mind.

The lesson in all of this is that as important as the demonstrations may be, those not demonstrating and their views must be factored by policy makers into the complex equation of how to move Lebanon forward. While it has become clear that the Syrian military presence in Lebanon has run its course, a Syrian withdrawal by itself doesn̢۪t solve the Lebanon puzzle. Intense U.S. pressure to implement the other half of 1559 may provoke counter-demonstrations that fragile Lebanon may not be able to easily digest.

In chart form, the results look like this:

Chart: Lebanese opinion on government

Interesting. The last census was 72 years ago and I’ve yet to find a very useful demographic breakdown, which would make analyzing the results possible. The CIA World Factbook, which corresponds to other guestimates I’ve seen, breaks it down thusly:

Muslim 59.7% (Shi’a, Sunni, Druze, Isma’ilite, Alawite or Nusayri), Christian 39% (Maronite Catholic, Melkite Catholic, Armenian Orthodox, Syrian Catholic, Armenian Catholic, Roman Catholic, Protestant), other 1.3%.

The Maronites are the largest plurality, constituting something like 30%. Still, Lebanon may be the classic case of there being no such thing as “public opinion” but rather the opinion of various “publics.”

FILED UNDER: Middle East, Public Opinion Polls, , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Kappiy says:

    You missed the part where Zogby calls Lebanon for Kerry/Edwards!

  2. McGehee says:

    Kappiy, you are a bad boy. LOL!