Towards the Elections: Prime Minister Netanyahu gets Mixed Grades

August 7, 2019


Tamar Hermann and Or Anabi, Israel Democracy institute, August 5, 2019

With permission, read full article at IDI.

* The national mood: The optimism of the public as a whole regarding the future of security improved slightly this month (52%) and remained higher than the optimism regarding the future of democracy (47%).

* In July, Netanyahu became the longest-serving Israeli prime minister. He is backed by a majority of the total public, which gives him high grades in the areas of: improving Israel’s international status (60%), enhancing Israel’s military power (56%), and contending with the Iranian challenge (50.5%). However, he gets poor grades from a majority of the public in the areas of strengthening solidarity between social groups (51%) and integrity (49%). 

* The majority of the public (56%) sees low chances that Prime Minister Netanyahu will be replaced after the upcoming elections.

* A majority thinks that even if it passes the minimum-votes threshold, the Labor Party headed by Amir Peretz will not join a Netanyahu-led government after the elections.

* The public is divided on the question of whether a multiparty coalition improves or damages the functioning of democracy.

* In the public’s view, the foremost issue that the next government should address is reducing the socioeconomic gaps (43.5%). The rate of those who think the most important issue to address is renewing the negotiations with the Palestinians stands at 16%.

* A majority of the public (53%) says Israel is not fulfilling the promise in its Declaration of Independence to grant equality to all. Among the Arabs the rate of those who say so (68.5%) is much higher than among the Jews (50%).

* The group that both the Jews (20%) and the Arabs (43%) see as not being granted equality is the Israeli Arabs. In second place – the Ethiopian population (15%).

* The number of Jews who approve of the policy of barring BDS supporters from entering Israel is double the number of Arabs who favor this policy (Jews – 71.5%, Arabs – 35%).

The National “Mood”

The rate of those who are optimistic about the future of national security rose slightly this month compared to last month; in July 52% expressed optimism on the issue compared to 50% in June. This could stem from the relative calm that prevailed along the Gaza border last month. The gap between the Jews and the Arabs is large: among the Jews there is a majority (55%) of optimists compared to a minority (36%) among the Arabs. However, when it comes to the state of Israeli democracy in the foreseeable future, the assessment is the same as last month with lower optimism on this issue than in the security sphere: total public – 47%, Jews – 50%, Arabs – 30.5%. 

“How do you feel about the state of democratic rule in Israel / Israel’s security situation in the foreseeable future?” (%)

A segmentation of the responses concerning the future of democracy in Israel by religiosity reveals that the rate of optimists among the religious groups is much higher than the rates among the secular groups (no such relationship was found regarding the future of security). 

Optimism about the future of democracy in Israel (%, Jews)

HaredimReligiousTraditional religiousTraditional nonreligiousSecular
7971584339

Grading Prime Minister Netanyahu, Whose Tenure Is the Longest in the History of the Country

In July 2019 Netanyahu became the longest-serving prime minister in the history of the country, and we wanted to know what grades the public gives him in the different areas. For the public as a whole, we found that Netanyahu gets the highest grade in the area of improving Israel’s international status, and immediately after it, in the sphere of fortifying the country’s military power. He gets the poorest grade in the area of reducing the gaps between the social groups, and almost as low a grade on the matter of integrity.

Netanyahu’s grades in different areas (%, total public)

As the next diagram shows, in all the areas the rate of Arabs who give Netanyahu a good or excellent grade is much lower than the rate for Jews, but the order is similar – both groups give the highest grades to his contribution to Israel’s international status and to enhancing its military power, and the lowest grades to his contribution to reducing the gaps between social groups and to maintaining integrity. 

A good or excellent grade for Netanyahu in different areas (%, Jews, Arabs)

As the following diagram shows, on the left only a small minority gives Netanyahu a good or excellent grade in all the areas (highest here are enhancing Israel’s military power and improving its international status). In the center a small majority gives Netanyahu a good or excellent grade in those two areas. In the other areas, only a minority gives him those grades. On the right, however, a large majority gives Netanyahu good or excellent grades in four areas—improving international status, enhancing military power, contending with Iran, and strengthening the economy. In three areas only a minority on the right gives him high grades: properly handling the relations with the Palestinians, reducing the gaps between social groups, and integrity. In other words, even the right is dissatisfied with the handling of the relations with the Palestinians, with Netanyahu’s contribution to national solidarity, and with his integrity!

A good or excellent grade for Netanyahu in different areas (%, Jews)

Low Chances that the Next Government Will Be Led by Someone Other than Netanyahu 

At present the majority of the total public (56%) sees the chances that, after the upcoming elections, the Israeli government will be led by someone other than Netanyahu as moderately low or very low.

The chances that the Israeli government after the elections will be led by a prime minister other than Netanyahu (%, total public)

A segmentation of the Jewish sample reveals that the left is divided between those who see the chances of a different prime minister after the elections as high and those who see them as low. On the right (65%) and in the center (51.5%), however, the majority sees low chances of it happening, believing that Netanyahu will continue his tenure and be the next prime minister. 

A segmentation by voting shows that Blue and White voters are divided: 46% estimate the chances of replacing Netanyahu as prime minister as high and 43% as low. Among Likud voters the majority (61%) views the chances of replacing Netanyahu as low and only 28% regard them as high. 

Will the Labor Party Join a Netanyahu-Led Government?

A majority of the public as a whole thinks that if it passes the minimum-vote threshold, the Labor Party headed by Amir Peretz will not join a Netanyahu-led government. It should be noted, though, that the rate of “Don’t knows” here is especially large (22.5%).

Low chances that if it passes the minimum-votes threshold, the Labor Party will join a Netanyahu-led government (%):

Total publicArabsJews in generalJews, rightJews, centerJews, left
514752544361

Does a Multiparty Coalition Improve or Damage Democracy?

We asked the interviewees to assess whether a multiparty coalition improves the character of Israel’s democracy because more sectors have representation in the government or instead gives minority groups excessive influence over national decision-making, including budget allocations. We found that the public is quite divided on this question: 40% think it improves democracy while 41% consider that it gives minority groups too much influence. Among the Jews there is a slight advantage for those who say that a wide coalition gives excessive influence to minority groups (43% vs. 39%). It should be noted that on this question there was a higher-than-usual rate of “Don’t knows” among both the Jews and the Arabs (18% and 24%). 

The differences between the positions on this question by political camp are very large. On the left a large majority, and in the center a smaller one, considers that a wide coalition damages democracy by giving too much influence to minority groups, while on the right the highest rate sees a multiparty coalition as providing better representation to multiple sectors and thereby contributing to democracy.

“With which of the following two claims do you agree more: that a multiparty coalition enhances Israel’s democratic character because more sectors have representation in the government or that a multiparty coalition gives minority groups too much power over national decision-making, including budget allocations?” (%, Jews)

The Most Important Issue for the Next Israeli Government to Address

As in previous indexes in recent years, this time too we found that in the opinion of the public as a whole, the most important issue for the next government to address is reducing the socioeconomic gaps. Among the Arabs the emphasis on this issue is even stronger than among the Jews (47% vs. 43%).

A segmentation of the Jewish sample by political camp shows that this issue ranks highest for all three camps: right – 40%, center – 50%, left – 44%. In second place on the right is the Iranian threat (18%); in the center, the fight against corruption (13%); and on the left – the negotiations with the Palestinians (24%).

Equal and More Equal 

We saw that the socioeconomic-gaps issue is of great concern to the Israeli public and tops the order of issues for the next government to address. We wanted to know how well the public sees Israel as upholding the value of equality as proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence. We found that a majority of the public (53%) thinks that equality in Israel, as promised in the Declaration of Independence, is not being upheld.

“Israel’s Declaration of Independence states that Israel will ‘ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex.” In your opinion, to what extent does such equality exist in Israel today?” (%, total public)

We wanted to know which groups are not being granted equality. To avoid influencing the interviewees with our own perceptions on the issue, we deviated from our usual practice and asked this as an open question. The diagram below presents those groups as perceived by the Jewish and Arab interviewees. It turns out that both sectors – but at very different rates – assess that the group not being granted equality to the greatest extent is the Israeli Arabs. In second place – in both the Jews’ and the Arabs’ responses – is the Ethiopian population. 

It should be noted that even though the question is directed at the groups that are not granted equality, a considerable rate of the respondents answered spontaneously that there is equality for everyone in Israel in the spirit of the Declaration of Independence.

The groups that are not granted equality in Israel (%, Jews, Arabs)

Preventing BDS Supporters from Entering Israel

Amid the talk about the upcoming visit to Israel by three American congresswomen who support BDS, we wanted to know the public’s position on the issue. A majority of the Jewish interviewees (71.5%) backed Israel’s current policy of denying entry to those who support the boycott movement (even though it has been announced that the three congresswomen will be allowed to enter). This is despite the fact that only a third (35%) of the Arab interviewees think that in such cases entry should be denied while 40.5% say that entry should be permitted in such cases. 

A huge gap on this issue also emerges from a segmentation of the Jewish sample by political camps. Whereas on the left only a minority favors the policy of denying entry, a majority in the center and on the right supports it:

“Is Israel’s policy of denying entry to those who support, or are suspected of supporting, the BDS movement the right policy?” (%, Jews)

LeftCenterRight
266983

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 July 28 to July 30, 652 men and women were interviewed in Hebrew and 127 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/