Study: Public has little, declining trust in gov't

Research conducted over 12 years finds that population's satisfaction with the public sector is at lowest level ever.

Knesset 370 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Knesset 370
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Although cabinet ministers and MKs believe their posts bring them honor and prestige, the average Israeli’s faith in such public servants is at its nadir and a “danger to democracy,” researchers at the University of Haifa and Ben- Gurion University of the Negev said on Sunday when presenting a study on the subject.
Political science professor Eran Vigoda-Gadot of Haifa and BGU Prof. Shlomo Mizrahi of the department of administration and public policy have conducted such research for the past 12 years.
They said the latest figures show that the government system and the bureaucratic structure should be changed.
Public satisfaction with the public sector was polled on a scale of one to five (from low to high satisfaction) among a representative sample of 482 adult citizens. As elections for the 19th Knesset are nearing, the researchers wanted to know how Israelis feel about their leaders.
In the latest study, the level of faith in current political leaders is down to an average of 1.9 out of five, compared to 2.04 in 2011 and 2.1 in 2010.
The current figure is the lowest ever, they said.
The institution of the Knesset is also the object of dishonor and disapproval, with an average trust level of 1.92 this year compared to 2.08 in 2011 and 2.1 two years ago, the researchers said.
Trust in government ministers and MKs was compared to that in judges, police, prison guards, journalists, teachers and others – all of whom did better than the politicians.
Faith in municipal officials and non-politicians in government was higher than in cabinet ministers and MKs.
Thus, the researchers said, the data “point to a severe crisis in the rule of government and the political system,” with the situation deteriorating over the past decade.
“This is especially prominent given the relative stability...
in the level of public services supplied by the professional level that are not connected to the political system that is in control. These data again raise the demand for a change in the government system and for an increased ability to rule and find a balance of forces with civilian society and the private sector,” they wrote.
The researchers concluded that a “low level of faith poses danger to every developed and developing democracy, because this can influence low civilian involvement and cause the people to disconnect from those they have voted for,” Vigoda-Gadot said.
The researchers added that their data also show a “serious problem of the image of political forces in Israel and the level of legitimacy that the public gives them. These data are especially important...
as the country prepares for an election campaign in which new faces will appear in the parliamentary and political sphere. Will they bring about the desired change in how politicians are regarded? We rather doubt it, but we haven’t lost hope,” they concluded.