- Jun 29, 2011
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Time magazine Globally Isolated and Economically Crippled: Why Hamas is Losing Gaza - TIME
Besieged by Israel and the West, which regards it as a terrorist group, and cut off from the Palestinian majority in the West Bank, Hamas has little to offer beyond its jihadist credentials and the promise of clean government. So it's hardly surprising that the party has been rapidly losing ground in its stronghold. Recent surveys by leading pollsters conclude that if elections were held in Gaza today, Hamas, an acronym in Arabic for the Islamic Resistance Movement, would not be returned to power. A June poll by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research found that Hamas would get just 28% of the vote, a steep decline from the 44% plurality it won in 2006.
Especially alarming for the Islamists is a precipitous drop in support for the party among Gaza's youth: two-thirds of the population is under 25. In a March survey taken in the afterglow of the protests in Cairo's Tahrir Square that led to the ouster of Egypt's dictator, Hosni Mubarak, more than 60% of Gazans age 18 to 27 said they too would support public demonstrations demanding regime change. [/quot
Even party stalwarts agree that they've lost the street. "The majority of people want a change, yes," says Ahmed Yusuf, a former deputy foreign minister for Hamas who now runs a think tank called House of Wisdom. "They are not happy with the way Hamas is governing Gaza. Wherever you look is miserable life." Forty percent of Gazans live in poverty. The rate of unemployment is approaching 50%, among the highest in the world, and is likely to worsen as the population of 1.6 million doubles in the next 20 years. "Because they believe in God, they don't think a lot about the future," says Gaza economist Omar Shaban, who heads the Pal-Think think tank. "You won't find someone in Hamas who is thinking about 2045. They say, 'Oh, God will provide.'"