New Israeli Democracy Index: Government Not Handling Challenges Well

How do Israelis assess the government’s ability to deal with challenges? Do they have confidence in their elected officials?

Released today, the 2012 Israeli Democracy Index provides critical insights regarding the public’s opinion of the preferred form of government, the functioning of the political system, the behavior and performance of elected officials and key democratic values.

The 2012 Index reveals that although the majority of Israelis (59%) feel that the government is not handling the country’s challenges well, the vast majority (76%) remain optimistic about the country’s future. The majority of both Jewish and Arab respondents feel that their ability to influence government policy is minimal or non-existent (62% and 69%, respectively), yet those who took part in the social protests of 2011 feel a stronger sense of belonging to the state than those who did not. And while 75% of Israeli Arabs feel discriminated against, 45% of them still feel pride in being Israeli.

Key Findings Include:

  • The assessment of Israel’s overall situation tends toward the positive: 38.1% characterize it as “good,” 40.5% as “so-so,” and the remainder (20.0%) as “bad.”
  • The level of solidarity of Jewish society in Israel (on a  scale of 1 to 10, where 10 is “very strong solidarity”) received an average rating of 6.2 among Jewish respondents and 5.4 among Arab respondents.
  • The most common preference among the Jewish public (41.9%) is for the dual definition of Israel as a “Jewish and democratic” state. A total of 34.3% ascribe greater importance to the Jewish component, while only 21.8% favor the democratic one.
  • Israelis’ level of interest in politics is high, though it has declined in comparison with last year (66.7% versus 76.8%, respectively).
  • Only about one in three respondents (37.6%) feel that there is a political party today that truly represents their views.
  • The form of political participation seen as most effective is voting in Knesset elections (60.7%). This is followed (in descending order) by Internet protests, participation in demonstrations, membership in a civic organization and party membership. Only a small minority (12.7%) considered the use of force to be an effective means of influencing government policy.
  • The majority of respondents feel that the protests of the summer of 2011 succeeded in raising media interest and public awareness regarding social/economic issues, but were less successful in changing government priorities and failed to weaken the status of the wealthiest tier.
  • In categorizing the areas of friction in Israeli society, the tension between Jews and Arabs ranks as the most severe, followed (in descending order) by the tension between religious and secular, rich and poor, right and left (in terms of views on politics and security) and Mizrahim and Ashkenazim.
  • The sense of feeling part of the state and its problems differs greatly between Jewish and Arab respondents (72.9% and 27.7%, respectively). Those who took part in the protests of the summer of 2011 feel a stronger sense of belonging to the state than those who did not.