Arabic | Kurdish

Public Opinion Poll For Kurdistan Regional Government’s Independence Referendum

2017/09/12 | 10:50

(Iraq Now News)- A Kurdish man in Iraq’s Kurdistan region.

Photo: AFP

RAWEST | via

RAWEST Humanitarian and Political Research Center (July 20 – August 5, 2017)


– Method



Fieldwork and Assessment 3ii.

Confidence Bound and Handicap 6


General information 7ii.

Sulaimani 10iii.

Erbil 14iv.

Dohuk 18v.

Data and results that are collected from ethnic and religious minorities living in the region 22


The results that include all ethnic groups in Kirkuk 24ii.

The results that include only Turkoman and Arab groups in Kirkuk 28



This survey was carried out with 1285 individuals – whose ages are above 18 – by using face to face method between July 20 and August 5.

The survey conducted among different age groups, social and political tendencies and educational backgrounds in Erbil, Sulaimani, Dohuk, Halabja where are not disputed areas and in disputed areas it was done only in Kirkuk city center and Khurmatu.

Because in the areas like Khanaqin, Sinjar, Zumar and Hamdany a reliable fieldwork cannot be done due to security problems, and because we cannot reach reliable data of population and voters, the survey does not include these regions where are parts of disputed areas.

However, Halabja where is recognized as a city after 2014 is added to Sulaimani for the survey results.

Populations of cities where the survey is carried out is shown.

(Statistics are received from Kurdistan Ministry of Planning) Regions Population 

1 Erbil 2.009.6382 Sulaimani 1.936.8833 Dohuk 1.423.1144 Halabja 102.8025 Kirkuk (Tuzkhurmatu) 678.403

The fieldwork was done with proportional interviewers based on population of the cities in total population and ethnic population rates.

1285 interviewers who were interviewed by using face-to-face method were from different backgrounds.

1.118 of 1285 individuals were Kurds, 167 of them were Christians, Turkomans, Arabs and from other ethnic and religious groups.

The data which is received from the survey will be divided into two categories.

The first section will include Sulaimani (including Halabja), Dohuk and Erbil where they are excluded by Article 140.

The second section will include Kirkuk and Khurmatu where are in the disputed areas.


i.Fieldwork and Assessment Report

This fieldwork was started on July 20, 2017 that is 43 days after declaration of the date of referendum which is June 7th 2017.

On this date, referendum has raised with postponement discussions among the citizens of Kurdistan Regional Government.

Even though decision of the referendum was given by political parties in the parliament which are Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), Kurdistan Islamic Union (Yekgirtu), Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK); during 23 days that fieldwork was done it has not been observed that these political parties had any propaganda out of their contacts that are seen from the media and bureaucracy.

In this period some disagreements that occurred in Patriotic Union of Kurdistan which is on the ‘Yes’ side, caused that PUK could not make clear its ‘Yes’ decision among its supporters.

The main opposition of Kurdistan Regional Government, Gorran and Islamic Group of Kurdistan (Komel) instead of state their choices in the referendum, came forward with postponement discussions and other conditions.

This causes their voters direct to ‘No’ and ‘Undecided’ options.

While doing our fieldwork and interviews it has been seen that particularly Christian minority living in Erbil tend to vote for ‘Yes’ but Sunni Arab population supports a united Iraqi state in the region.

In Kirkuk, most of Turkoman and Arab minorities tend to boycott the referendum or vote for ‘No’.

On the other side, it has been seen that there is an important number of voters are undecided.

Despite, in Kirkuk non-Kurdish groups are undecided to vote, it has been reached that even if they vote, they will vote for ‘No’.

However, attitude of Kurdish Government for legacy of the election and Turkoman, Arab and Assyrian parties, if they think about the possibility that ’No’ choice can success, and call their supporters to join the election can change the results.

For most of voters who think ’No’ option, basic reason for ‘No’ is that the economic crises of last three years might grow with independence.

The possibilities of civil war in Iraq and depression of Iran and Turkey on the region are following the economic reason.

It should be emphasize that though the voters who think to vote for ‘No’ believe that with independence economy will be worse than now, in Erbil the voters who think to vote for ‘Yes’ believe that with independence the economy will be better.

If we consider Kurdish voters who support ‘No’, according to their age groups, particularly in Sulaimani almost all voters who are under 25 ages underline that they will vote for ‘No’.

The immutable determination of this young population in ‘No’ option, even if their parties call for ‘Yes’ is a remarkable data because it shows that young population can be effective in the referendum.

In Sulaimani, tendency of voters is that they are not against the independence but they think that it is not right time for it.

Also, most of voters interpret the referendum on the Barzanis and KDP and approach it from an anti-Barzanian perspective.

“No for Now” movement, which is lead by owner of Nalia Media Group, Shahsawar Abdulwahid who aims to turned this attitude into an opportunity, can raise during the referendum period.

It is being observed that in this period that any political party does not say ‘No’, voters of Gorran and Komel parties are more clear than their parties while saying ‘No’ or plan to boycott the election.

After Presidency Election in 2009, PUK is expected to exhibit mutual attitude with the KDP for the first time in an election throughout Kurdistan.

It is awaited to PUK consolidate its voters in Kirkuk and Dohuk strongly but in Sulaimani and Erbil can have more difficulties.

In 2009 Presidency Election when Gorran was not the main opposition, KDP and PUK went to the election with joint nomination, Mesud Barzani.

Famous leader of PUK Jalal Talabani strongly call for supporting Barzani but PUK voters in Sulaimani support an academician Kamal Mirawdali, who known with his closeness to Gorran, took almost 70% of the votes.

This situation lead Gorran to win a victory against PUK in the 2013 Parliament Election.

At the end of the process, Gorran had ended 38 years of the indisputable political power of PUK in Sulaimani.

In the case that ‘Yes’ wins the election throughout Kurdistan, Shahsawar Abdulwahid might lose but with a campaign that affects the voters of Gorran and PUK can lead the ‘No’ side in next elections and can be the main opposition in the future.

If it is thought that Talabani and Nawshirwan Mustafa are not in the politics anymore, this condition might be an advantage for Abdulwahid.

It has been considered that similar to strategies of Komel and Gorran, by strengthening his supporters against KDP he can resist against ‘Yes’ option.

Kurdistan Islamic Union (Yekgirtu) will not be strained to influence its voters in Dohuk who are traditionally near to KDP.

However, in Sulaimani and particularly in Halabja it is highly possible that it can be strained to convince its supporters whom are highly inclined to religious values.

Kurdistan Democrat Party is will not be strained to consolidate its supporters to ‘Yes’ because it corresponds to its supporters.

Patriotic Union of Kurdistan is an determinant element since it can inspire its supporters and change possible ‘No’ votes into ‘Yes’.

In Kirkuk it is being observed that no matter which political party they are supporting, Kurdish voters are highly motivated for independence.

8 of 12 seats in this city are taken by Kurdish parties; 6 of them by PUK and 2 of them by KDP.

PUK voters are decided to ‘Yes’ choice.

It is being seen that out of Dohuk, in Kirkuk ’Yes’ choice is very high among the Kurdish voters.

Last conflicts and the holiness that is given by Kurds to Kirkuk cause Kurds to turn toward ‘Yes’ option.

The main reason of undecided or ‘No’ voters who are very few is that while in Erbil, Sulaimani and Dohuk salaries are being paid late, in Kirkuk which is dependent on Central Iraqi Government salaries are being paid on time.

For ‘No’ side this contradiction can be used as an argument to convince undecided voters.

While Turkomans, Arabs and Assyrians who live in Kirkuk are strictly on the ‘No’ or ‘Boycott’ side, Christians and Turkomans who live in Erbil are expressing that they are near to ‘Yes’ side.

While non-Kurds and who are not supporting independence are not prone to boycott the election in Erbil, instead of going to the election and vote for ‘No’ boycotting the election is more clear political attitude for them in Kirkuk.

Decision of Turkoman Progression, Reform Party and Turkoman Development Party to support the referendum and status of Erbil that is not being similar to Kirkuk cause this situation.

We can interpret that political choices of Turkomans who are based in Kirkuk and Erbil comprise from different feelings and expectations.

Among the minorities that will strictly vote for ‘No’ there is a Sunni Arab population that will vote for ‘Yes’ since they are discomfort with Shia government because of sect and security issues and they want to get rid of the chaos.

In Kirkuk, Turkomans and Shia Arabs say that they will not change their ‘No’ votes even if their parties call for ‘Yes’ but Sunni Arabs state that their attitude might change in this case.

If Kurdish parties give assurance that consider this contradiction, they can have influence to change their choices.

For the question of whether ’Is it right time for the referendum or not?’ more than 50% percentage of people who live in Kurdistan Region answer that ‘it is not right time’.

The percentage of people who said that even if it is not right time they will vote is very high.

“No for Now Movement” if interpret this profile of voters and put ‘For Now’ forward to ‘No’ in a month of election progress can lead voters to ‘No’ option.

‘Yes’ side can prevent losing votes by promoting that if in the referendum ‘Yes’ wins they will not declare independence immediately; instead, after elimination of deficiencies progress, they will declare it.

For the question of “Will you vote in the referendum?” people who answer “I am not decided.” state that after decision of their parties they will rethink.

Answer of the question of “If you join the election, what will you vote for?” is mostly ‘No’.

This case shows that if people join the election, particularly in Silemani and Kirkuk, ‘No’ side will gain strength.

If ’No’ side organize a strong campaign in order to make people join the election can affect the result for its own sake.

In Dohuk we can analyze this data in contrast but fewness of voters in this city might be disadvantage for ‘Yes’ side.

In the meetings that we had with political groups, parties and interviewers ‘No’ side is worried about security of the election particularly in Erbil and Dohuk since they cannot have observers in these cities because of oppression and, votes of people who cannot come from countryside can be used by someone else.

Read the full report in PDF

The views expressed are the author’s alone and do not necessarily represent the views of or its editors.

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