Iranians’ Attitudes Toward the 2022 Nationwide Protests

Gamaaan Group

February 4, 2023

Find here the full English report and methodology of GAMAAN’s Survey on Iranians’ Attitudes toward the 2022 Nationwide Protests.

Survey Summary

The survey “Iranians’ Attitudes Toward the 2022 Nationwide Protests” was conducted between December 21–31, 2022. Around 200,000 respondents participated in and completed this survey. Over 157,000 respondents were inside Iran, and over 42,000 respondents were outside the country. The survey results based on respondents inside the country represent the target population of literate Iranian adults above 19 years old (equal to 90% of the total adult population), with respective credibility levels and credibility intervals of 95% and 5%. This report’s results cannot be said to be representative of all Iranians in the diaspora; however, given the large sample size, the balanced distribution of the sample, and the participation of respondents from 130 countries, the report’s results can be seen to reflect the views of a significant part of Iranians outside the country.

In response to the question “Islamic Republic: Yes or No?” 81% of respondents inside the country responded “No” to the Islamic Republic, 15% responded “Yes,” and 4% were not sure. Of the Iranian respondents abroad, 99% responded “No,” opting against the Islamic Republic.

Those who answered “No” to the Islamic Republic or “I do not know” in the question on a referendum about the Islamic Republic were asked a follow-up question about their preferred democratic and secular alternative regime type. Of those, 28% inside Iran and 32% outside Iran would prefer a presidential republic, 12% inside Iran and 29% outside Iran would prefer a parliamentary republic regime type, and 22% inside Iran and 25% outside Iran would prefer a constitutional monarchy.

Regarding the nationwide protests of the past months, 80% of those inside the country support the protests; 67% believe the protests will succeed, while 14% think they will not succeed. Around 15% of the population inside the country oppose the protests. Respondents outside the country overwhelmingly support the protests; of these, 90% think they will succeed, and only 9% think they will not succeed.

When asked about different protest actions, 22% of those inside the country say they have participated in street protests, and 53% state that they might participate in protests. Also 22% participated in nightly chanting in support of the protests, and 46% say they might do so. Of those inside the country, 35% have engaged in acts of civil disobedience such as removing headscarves or writing slogans, while 35% state they might do so in the future; 44% say they joined strikes, while 38% say they might do so; 75% approve of boycotting and not buying certain products; and 66% have participated in protesting on the Internet. Furthermore, around 8% say they have committed acts of “civil sabotage” [kharābkārī-i sharāfatmandānah], and 41% claim they might do so in the future.

In response to a question about the 2022 FIFA World Cup, 46% of Iranians inside the country and 56% of Iranians outside the country state that they feel happy that the soccer team of the Islamic Republic of Iran lost against the United States’ team. In contrast, 23% of those in the country and 8% of those outside report having felt sad about the game’s outcome.

Returning to the protests, 85% of respondents inside the country who support the protests agree with the formation of a so-called solidarity council (or opposition coalition), comprising prominent activists of various political orientations; 42% believe that such a council should definitively include prominent activists inside and outside the country, and 34% would agree with the formation of such a council being made up of individuals outside the country if those inside support them. Another 9% believe that such a council should be composed exclusively of activists who live in the country. Around 4% of those who support the protests disagree with forming such a council and think it is unnecessary. Of the respondents outside Iran, 47% agree with the idea of a solidarity council or opposition coalition if it is supported by activists inside the country, while 45% think that such a council should consist of activists inside and outside the country.

Of those Iranians who reside in the country and support the protests, 59% expect the solidarity council to form a transition council and a provisional government; 53% think the council should represent protestors in the world and negotiate with foreign countries; 45% think the council should call for protests inside the country; and 35% think the council should help organize protest rallies abroad.

In another question about which prominent figures should come together in a solidarity council—from a list of 34 individuals who are active in society and politics and represent diverse political orientations—respondents chose the following people in order of popularity: Reza Pahlavi, Ali Daei, Ali Karimi, Hamed Esmaeilion, Hossein Ronaghi, Nazanin Boniadi, Fatemeh Sepehri, Masih Alinejad, Nasrin Sotoudeh, Toomaj Salehi, Narges Mohammadi, Molavi Abdolhamid, Golshifteh Farahani, a Kurdish Parties’ representative (not named), Shirin Ebadi, Mohammad Nourizad, Kaveh Madani, Dariush Eghbali, Majid Tavakoli, Esmail Bakhshi, and others.

Regarding prominent figures that should come together in a solidarity council, the results show that, on average, respondents inside the country selected 7 individuals, and respondents outside the country selected 9 individuals. The 20 most-selected individuals would represent 85% of the selections. It is noteworthy that, of these 20 persons, 10 reside in Iran and 10 reside outside Iran. The 10 most- selected individuals who reside in Iran make up 40% of the total selections, and the 10 most- selected individuals who reside outside Iran make up 45% of the selections.

Also, 73% inside the country believe that Western countries should defend the protestors’ rights by seriously pressuring the Iranian government. Of the Iranian respondents outside the country, 96% support this view. In contrast, around 19% of respondents inside the country think that Western powers should not intervene, as the protests are an internal matter.

A majority of 70% agree with Western governments proscribing the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist organization, expelling the ambassadors of the Islamic Republic, allowing international foreign intervention to protect protestors, sanctioning officials who played a role in suppressing the protests, and seizing Iran’s property and assets to cut the government’s access to them. Moreover, 66% think that Western governments should support civil leaders and engage with opposition activists and groups. Around 62% agree with ending negotiations to revive the joint nuclear deal (JCPOA), while 6% disagree with ending the negotiations.

Even though the majority of the population in Iran does not trust the regime’s institutions, trust in the army, at 29%, is relatively higher than trust in other institutions. Banks, at 24%, are the second-most trusted institution. On the other hand, the parliament, with 8%; and the state media and the government, with 10%; are deemed the most untrustworthy. Trust in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and the Supreme Leader reaches about 14%; likewise, around 13% say they trust the courts and judicial system, and 17% say they trust the police.

Respondents were also asked a question about punitive measures for officials responsible for killings. Of the respondents inside the country, 16% say they would agree with revolutionary executions of officials responsible for the killings, 29% agree with the death penalty should a court reach the verdict after a fair trial, and 24% say they would seek punishments other than the death penalty. Only 3% inside the country agree with the option of forgiveness and general amnesty, and 27% say they think that legal experts should decide on the matter. Of those who reside outside Iran, 8% agree with revolutionary executions, 25% agree with the death penalty for those responsible for the killings should a court reach the verdict after a fair trial, while 48% disagree with the death penalty.

In response to a question about their political orientations, 60% of respondents inside the country describe themselves as proponents for regime change as a precondition for any meaningful change; 16% are proponents of a structural transformation and transition away from the Islamic Republic; 11% are proponents of the principles of the Islamic Revolution and the Supreme Leader; 6% are proponents of gradual reforms within the framework of the Islamic Republic; and 6% don’t identify with any of these political orientations. In comparison with GAMAAN’s previous surveys, after the 2022 nationwide protests the percentage of those who support regime change increased by 20%.