Annual survey: public confidence in institutions, satisfaction with the state of the country

With Israel adopting a national budget for the first time in two years, putting an end to recurring coalition collapses and repeated elections, confidence in the government has increased only slightly, but overall confidence in the government has risen only slightly. State institutions remain weak, according to an annual survey released Thursday by Israel. Institute of Democracy.

For Arab Israelis, who generally distrust state institutions more than Jewish Israelis, a significant increase in their trust in government, political parties and the Knesset has been seen, with the coalition now including for the first time in decades a Arab party.

The report was delivered in person to President Isaac Herzog by the President of the Israel Democracy Institute, Yohanan Plesner, and Professor Tamar Hermann, director of the Viterbi Family Center for Public Opinion and Policy Research at IDI.

It was divided into four main themes: democratic values, the legal system, trust and general satisfaction.

The annual report, in its 19th edition, revealed “a complex picture regarding the level of public confidence in key institutions and officials, confidence in the country’s civil service and the overall strength of Israeli democracy,” said the IDI in a press release.

According to previous surveys, the Israel Defense Forces have the highest level of public trust, despite falling from 90% in 2019 to 78% in 2021, the lowest level since 2008.

Illustration: Israeli combat soldiers take part in an exercise in northern Israel. (Israel Defense Forces)

The President of Israel was second highest in the trust rankings with 58%, similar to the 56% recorded in 2020.

Despite occupying third place, only a minority trusts the Supreme Court, whose positive rating rose from 42% in 2020 to 41% by 2021.

Israel’s police were in fourth place with 33.5%, up from 41% in 2020; the media were at 25%, up from 32% the previous year; and at the bottom of the list were the Knesset with 21% and political parties with 10%.

Countering an overall downward trend among institutions, the government gained a few percentage points, reaching 27% from 25% in 2020.

Arab Israelis tend to trust state institutions and officials less than their Jewish counterparts. However, levels of trust in the Arab community have increased since last year, with the Supreme Court at 49%, down from 40% in 2020. The president has also gained trust, to 41% from 31%, as has the Israeli army with 36%. against 32% in the 2020 survey.

Political parties have enjoyed greater confidence among Arab respondents, at 22% this year compared to 14% in 2020. The Knesset also gained points, up to 25% from 17.5% last year.

The government, which for the first time in decades now includes an Arab party, has won the confidence of Arab Israelis, dropping from 14% in 2020 to 28% in the recent poll. However, the police slipped from 26% to 22% and the media from 36% to 32%.

MK Mansour Abbas, leader of the Islamist party Ra’am, speaks during a plenary session in the Knesset meeting room in Jerusalem, January 5, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel / Flash90)

The survey asked respondents about six proposals relating to the decentralization of power, amending the country’s basic quasi-constitutional laws and representation in Knesset elections.

He revealed that 67% of Israelis are in favor of transferring more power from government ministries to local authorities. The survey found that 57% of Israelis trust their local leaders, a relatively high figure that has remained stable over time, according to the IDI.

More than 51% supported the idea of ​​regional representation in Knesset elections.

Trust in local authorities was much higher among Jewish citizens (62%) than among Arabs (32%). However, while the percentage of Jews was similar to the 63% recorded in the previous year’s survey, among Arab Israelis there was a marked drop from 48% in the 2020 poll. The IDI has suggested this was due to dissatisfaction with the way local Arab authorities handled the COVID-19 pandemic and “severe violence in localities with large Arab populations.”

Illustration: An Arab Israeli votes in the Knesset elections on April 9, 2019, at a polling station in the northern city of Tayibe. (Ahmad Gharabli / AFP)

As for the legal system, the survey found that 56% believe the Supreme Court should have the power to overturn Knesset laws that contradict democratic principles. This showed that there has been a slight increase in the issue over the past decade, as in 2010 support for this power was only 52.5%.

While a clear majority of 70% of secular Israelis supported the idea, a minority of national clerics (22%) and only 17% of ultra-Orthodox agreed. Overall, there was strong support among the Arab population (74%) but only a slim 52% majority among Jews.

A majority of those who identify as left (56%) or center (41%) in their political views think the Supreme Court currently has the right amount of power, while most on the right (57%) think that she has too much control.

A similar picture has emerged based on religious perspectives, with a majority of secular Israelis holding the Supreme Court having the right amount of power while 76% of ultra-Orthodox and 70% of national clerics see it as excessive.

Only a minority of Israelis, 48% on the left and 32% in the center, believe that Supreme Court justices make decisions without being influenced by their personal political opinions, while 51% of those on the right believe that personal opinions have an effect.

Illustration: Supreme Court justices arrive for a hearing at the Supreme Court in Jerusalem on February 24, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel / Flash90)

While 80% on the left and 53% in the center don’t think the court is intervening more than it should, on the right 69% say it is doing too much.

The poll identified distrust on the part of many Israelis of the political right and the ultra-Orthodox community, who believe that judges are appointed on the basis of political considerations.

“The selection of judges in Israel is seen by much of the public as a process in which political considerations play a major role,” IDI said.

This is an opinion shared by 87% of ultra-Orthodox and 77% of national religious Jews, while less than half (46.5%) of secular Jews shared this opinion.

Respondents were also asked whether judges were under political pressure – but not whether they succumb to it – and overall three-quarters said they believed the pressure was present.

In addition, a majority on the right and in the center considers that the legal system is biased in its management of elected officials with 52% agreeing that the political affiliation of elected officials influences the way they are treated. It is a point of view most strongly supported by the right (63%) and by a minority of those from the center (39%) and the left (29%).

There was a similar divide between political perspectives on the issue of corruption in the justice system, with those on the left (73%) and center (52%) feeling that the system “is not all or only slightly corrupt. corrupt ”while 61% of those on the right think he is“ somewhat corrupt or very corrupt ”.

The perception of possible bias has spread to the prosecution, with 63% of people on the left believing that the office acts “only or mainly” for professional considerations, a view shared by 47% of people at the center. However, on the right, 63% are of the opposite opinion, considering the public prosecutor as acting “mainly or solely on political considerations”.

Finally, the IDI looked at general satisfaction, finding that less than a third of Israelis (33% of Jews, 25% of Arabs) think Israel’s situation is “good” or “very good” , the lowest rating in a decade.

However, 63% said they were optimistic about its future (67% Jews and 42% Arabs). Among the Jewish population, 84% are proud to be Israeli, while there has been a sharp decline in the Arab population – only 27.5% compared to 50% in 2018.

Overall, however, 76% of Jews and 66% of Arabs consider Israel a good place to live. Most Jews (70%) and Arabs (81%) would prefer to stay in the country even if they promised them the nationality of another Western country.

Illustration: Israelis enjoy the beach in Tel Aviv on a hot summer day, July 6, 2021 (Miriam Alster / Flash90)

The survey presented respondents with seven attributes about what makes a “real Israeli” and identified wide gaps between Jewish and Arab Israelis.

Serving in the IDF – a predominantly Jewish vocation – was considered important by 83% of Jews, but only 16% of Arabs.

Being Jewish was supported by 73% of Jews but only 12% of Arabs, while acceptance of the definition of Israel as “a Jewish and democratic state” was supported by 85% of Jews and 33% of Arabs.

When asked which societal tensions were most serious, 46% of survey respondents cited those between Jews and Arabs, making it the most supported opinion. This marked a big increase from 2020, when only 28% supported the suggestion. However, this is a view shared by more Arabs (64%) than Jews (42.5%).

The gap between right and left, which had occupied the first place in recent years, has fallen to second place with 32%.

Almost half of Jews (42%) believe that Jewish citizens should have more rights than non-Jewish citizens, compared with only 27% who shared this view in 2018. The figure was higher among those who self-identify as being on the right (57%). while only 28% of those in the center and 5% of those on the left agreed.

The public was very concerned about the stability of the democratic regime, with 44% of Jewish Israelis and 75% of Arabs seeing it as threatened.

The IDI noted that Israel also fell in the ranking of most international indicators on political rights, civil liberties and press freedom compared to the average scores of 2010-2019.

The internet and telephone survey was conducted from June 15 to 24 and October 24 to 27, 2021 by the Viterbi Family Center for Public Opinion. It sampled 1,004 men and women in Hebrew and 184 in Arabic. The sample error was + -2.9%

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