Iranian Attitudes in Advance of the Parliamentary Elections
Nancy Gallagher, Ebrahim Mohseni, Clay Ramsay, "Iranian Attitudes in Advance of the Parliamentary Elections," CISSM Publication, February 2016.
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The Center for International and Security Studies at Maryland (CISSM), in conjunction with the Program for Public Consultation (PPC) has been conducting a series of studies about Iranian and American public opinion to explore how public attitudes might be affecting the negotiation, ratification, and implementation of the JCPOA. This study repeats many of the questions asked in previous surveys of Iranian public opinion conducted with the University of Tehran Center for Public Opinion Research (UTCPOR) and Iranpoll.com, an independent Toronto-based polling company. The July 2014 study focused on what types of limitations and transparency measures the Iranian public might be willing to place on Iran’s nuclear program in return for sanctions relief. The May 2015 study assessed Iranian public attitudes toward the framework for a deal that negotiators made public before they worked out the detailed provisions of the JCPOA. The September 2015 study explored what the Iranian public thought about the agreement reached on July 14 of that year, including how understanding of the terms and expectations regarding sanctions relief affected attitudes toward the JCPOA, the leaders who had negotiated it, and Rouhani’s foreign policy of equitable cooperation with the West. These studies and the reports on U.S. attitudes towards the negotiations with Iran are available at: http:www.cissm.umd.edu. This study repeats a number of the same questions asked before, revealing how public attitudes and expectations have changed as Iran carried out its own review and approval process, then started shipping most of its stockpile of low enriched uranium out of Iran, disabling the Arak reactor, and taking a number of other actions prior to getting any sanctions relief. Public support for the JCPOA, for Rouhani, and for moderate candidates in the upcoming election remain strong—albeit not as strong as before—even though more Iranian’s know that the terms of the deal are not as favorable for Iran as they had previously believed. But there are also signs that Rouhani could become the victim of dashed expectations in the 2017 presidential election if he cannot translate sanctions relief into rapid economic improvements, especially reductions in unemployment. This study also includes many new questions to explore how implementation of the deal, and simultaneous debates in the U.S. Congress about imposing new sanctions on Iran for other reasons, might be influencing Iranian attitudes about working with the United States on other 4 Iranian Attitudes in Advance of the Parliamentary Elections | January 2016 problems, like terrorism and civil violence in the Middle East. In addition to repeating a question asked previously about cooperating to help the government of Iraq counter ISIS, we probed extensively into Iranian attitudes towards ISIS and other non-state actors in the region, toward various forms of involvement by Iran and other countries in Syria, and toward current diplomatic efforts to end the civil war in Syria and concentrate international military action on defeating ISIS. The data was collected from December 29, 2015 through January 15, 2016. During this period, a growing number of observers expected Implementation Day to happen soon, but there were still questions about when the IAEA would certify that Iran had fulfilled its commitments, and about whether the United States would impose new sanctions for Iran’s ballistic missile activities. This was also shortly before new visa rules took effect in the United States that might discourage Europeans from visiting Iran after sanctions were lifted. The most noteworthy development during the data collection period that may have influenced Iranian attitudes about regional security issues was Saudi Arabia’s beheading of a prominent Shia cleric on January 2. This study was designed, managed, and analyzed by CISSM in conjunction with the Program for Public Consultation, both of which are at the School of Public Policy at the University of Maryland. The data was collected by IranPoll.com working in conjunction with UTCPOR.