Tamar Hermann and Or Anabi, Israel Democracy Institute, November 28, 2019
With permission, read full article at Israel Democracy Institute.
* A sharp decline in the public’s optimism about the future of Israeli democracy was measured in the November survey compared to the previous months. A decline was also recorded in optimism about the future of national security, though it was less steep than regarding the future of democracy.
* There was also a decline in positive assessments of the state of Israeli democracy compared to the beginning of the year.
* In the public as a whole, and on the left and in the center specifically (Jews), the majority pins the responsibility for the failure to form a government on Netanyahu; on the right, however, the majority blames Avigdor Liberman.
* There is almost a public consensus that in the time remaining, chances are small that any member of Knesset will manage to form a coalition that will win the support of 61 members of Knesset.
* Like last month, this month as well the public as a whole remains divided on the question of whether Blue and White will stay united or split apart in the wake of Benny Gantz’s failure to form a government. Among the party’s own voters, the majority thinks it will not split up.
* What should Netanyahu do now? In the public as a whole, about one-third, the highest rate, thinks he should resign and stand trial as a citizen. A segmentation by political camp (Jews) shows that a majority of the left, and the highest rate in the center, would want Netanyahu to resign in the wake of the announcement of the indictment, compared to only a minority on the right. On the right in general and among Likud voters in particular, the highest rate wants Netanyahu to remain in his post as the law allows him to do.
*The majority of voters for the right-wing parties agree with Netanyahu that the legal process against him was “tainted,” while the majority of voters on the left and in the center, and of Yisrael Beiteinu voters, deny this.
The National “Mood”
Less than one-third (32%) of the Israeli public are optimistic at present about the future of Israeli democracy, a sharp decline from the previous months and a stepped-up continuation of the trend of decline since we started measuring this issue after the April elections. The rate of optimists is low in all three political camps (Jews), but it is especially low on the left and in the center and somewhat higher on the right (respectively 22%, 25%, and 40%). In the Arab public the rate of optimists comes to only 23%.
The rate of those optimistic about the future of national security has also declined compared to the previous months, now standing at 49% for the public as a whole. At the same time, this rate, as noted, is considerably higher than the rate of those optimistic about the future state of Israeli democracy. Here too the rate of optimists is lowest on the left (36%) compared to the center (42%) and the right (57.5%). In the Arab public the rate of optimists about the future of security stands at 40%, almost double the rate of the optimists about the future of democracy.
Optimistic about the future of Israeli democracy and about the future of national security, April-November 2019 (%, entire public)
The uneasiness about the state of Israeli democracy is also evident in a certain change for the worse, compared to the beginning of the year, in the distribution of responses to the question: “On a scale of 1 to 5, where 1 is ‘poor’ and 5 is ‘excellent,’ what grade do you give to the state of Israeli democracy today?” As the diagram below shows, a decline occurred in the rate of those describing the state of democracy as good or excellent from one-third to one-fourth, an increase in the rate of those assessing it as so-so, as well as an increase in the rate of the “Don’t knows.”
On a scale of 1 to 5, where 1 is ‘poor’ and 5 is ‘excellent,’ what grade do you give to the state of Israeli democracy today (%, January and November 2019)
Who Is to Blame for the Failure to Form a Government?
In light of the current political imbroglio, we asked: “Who, in your opinion, is mainly responsible for the fact that over the past two months no government has been formed?” It turns out that the highest rate of Israeli citizens point the finger of blame at Netanyahu (43%), and after him – at Avigdor Liberman (38%). Only a small minority (7%) sees Benny Gantz as responsible for the situation. As expected, the gaps between the political camps (Jews) are large, though in all three of them Gantz is perceived as the least to blame (left – 1%, center – 4%, right – 8%). On the left and in the center a large majority (86% and 67%) sees Netanyahu as mainly responsible, while on the right only 23% pin the blame on him, instead putting most of it on Liberman’s shoulders (57%).
The Arab public ascribes the blame first and foremost to Netanyahu (54%), with a minor difference between Liberman (16%) and Gantz (13%). It may be that the relatively high rate of Arabs who blame Gantz reflects the perception that he rejected the possibility of including the Joint List in his bloc.
Mainly responsible for the failure to form a government over the past two months (%, Jews, by political camp)
The Chances of Forming a Government in the Next Two Weeks
A large majority of the public (82%) does not believe that in the time remaining until the end of the period when it is still possible to form a government, any particular member of Knesset will manage to do so. The gaps on this issue between the three political camps (Jews), and also between Jews and Arabs, are small. In other words, a large majority of the public sees Israel as headed for another round of elections.
What are the chances that in the next two weeks one of the members of Knesset will succeed to present a coalition supported by 61 members of Knesset? (%, entire public)
The Future of Blue and White
The public as a whole remains divided on the question of whether Blue and White will stay united or split apart in the wake of Benny Gantz’s failure to form a government. However, a segmentation by political camps (Jews) turns up huge disparities: among those who defined themselves as on the left, 71.5% think the party will keep being united; in the center 48% believe so, while among those locating themselves on the right, only 32% believe things are looking good for Blue and White. Among Blue and White voters in the September elections, the majority (60.5%) expects that the party will stay united.
What Should Netanyahu Do in the Wake of the Indictments?
More than a third, the highest rate for the public as a whole (35%), think Netanyahu should resign and stand trial like any citizen. Seventeen percent consider that he can remain in his post as the law allows him to do, while a very similar rate (16%) says he should now leave his post temporarily and return to it if he is cleared in the trial. Fifteen percent think he is entitled to immunity, 8% would want him to sign a plea bargain and retire from political life, and the rest do not know. In other words, the majority thinks that in one way or another, he should now leave his post.
After the attorney-general’s decision to indict Prime Minister Netanyahu, among the following possibilities which, in your opinion, is preferable? (%, entire public)
A segmentation by political camps (Jews) shows that on the left there is a solid majority (68%) that would want to see Netanyahu resign after being indicted. In the center 45% prefer that possibility, and on the right only 17%. The highest rate on the right (27%) wants Netanyahu to continue in his post as the law permits, compared to 11% in the center and zero on the left. The preferences of the right at present are very similar to those we found in the June 2019 survey. As for Likud voters specifically, the highest rate (27%) consider that at present Netanyahu should stay in his job as the law permits, and about the same number say he should be given immunity. Seventeen percent prefer a temporary retirement and then, if he is exonerated, a return to the post. Twelve percent want him to resign, and only 8% favor a plea bargain and a retirement from political life.
After the attorney-general’s decision to indict Prime Minister Netanyahu, Netanyahu should step down (%, by voting in the September 2019 elections)
Was the Legal Process Involving Netanyahu “Tainted”?
In the wake of Netanyahu’s speech after Attorney-General Mandelblit’s announcement, we asked: “In your opinion, was Netanyahu right or not right when he said in his address, after the announcement of the attorney-general’s decision, that the legal process against him was ‘tainted,’ that is, designed to depose him?” The data show that slightly more than half of the public (52%) dismiss this statement by Netanyahu while a little more than a third (36.5%) agree with his reading. The rest do not know. A segmentation by voting for the Knesset in the September elections reveals, as expected, large gaps: on the right the majority agrees with Netanyahu’s construal while the left discounts it. The interesting finding concerns Yisrael Beiteinu voters, whose position on this issue is like that of the Blue and White voters.
The legal process against Netanyahu was “tainted” (%, agree, entire public, by Knesset voting)
The Israeli Voice Index is a project of the Guttman Center for Public Opinion and Policy Research of the Israel Democracy Institute. In the survey, which was conducted on the internet and by telephone (supplements of groups that are not sufficiently represented on the network) from November 24 to November 26, 607 men and women were interviewed in Hebrew and 148 in Arabic, constituting a representative national sample of the entire adult population of Israel aged 18 and older. The maximum sampling error for the entire sample was 3.7%± at a confidence level of 95%. The fieldwork was done by the Rafi Smith Institute under the direction of Rafi Smith. For the full data file see: https://dataisrael.idi.org.il