The public’s trust in the government’s handling of the coronavirus crisis has plunged, a new survey by the Israel Democracy Institute has found.
Only 40.5% say they have trust in government medical experts, 29.5% in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and 27% in Health Minister Yuli Edelstein.
IDI’s Guttman Center for Public Opinion and Policy Research has been asking Israelis these same questions since the early spring, as the pandemic was hitting the country. During the “first wave,” the prime minister enjoyed trust ratings as high as 57.5% and an average rating of 51.5% between the March 29 and June 9 surveys. This newest ranking is his lowest since the start of the outbreak.
Some 59.4% of Arabs said they have “no trust at all” in Netanyahu.
Similarly, trust in the government’s health experts has declined steadily from 63% in March to this month’s 40.5% rating. Some 19.6% of Jews and 31.2% of Arabs report that they “have no trust at all.”
Another shift is that many more Israelis – almost three-fourths (73.3%) – fear catching corona, among them 26.5% of Jews and 46.9% of Arabs who “greatly fear” getting sick.
“The current survey data show a real increase in both the fear of infection and the economic fear,” said Prof. Tamar Hermann, who runs the Guttman center. “This is because the ‘second wave’ of the disease is felt across the country and the number of unemployed is skyrocketing again. The result – backed by unequivocal data – is a collapse in public confidence in individuals and bodies entrusted with dealing with the coronavirus crisis.”
She noted that the fall in confidence in Netanyahu is not only sharp by respondents who consider themselves Center or Left, but also sharp among his onw Likud Party voters.
Former defense minister Naftali Bennett has emerged as an alternative to the government’s handling of the crisis, often declaring himself the most suitable person to get Israel out of the coronavirus crisis on multiple platforms. The survey asked whether the public thinks he is the right person for the job. Some 40% of Israelis think that Bennett is indeed suitable for the task and 38% answered that he is not. Some 22% said that they do not know.
“The expectation of a ‘messiah’ is natural,” Hermann said. “This time, it turns out that a significant part of the public hangs their hopes on MK Naftali Bennett... There is a lot of support for him, especially among the religious and traditional-religious public."
For the first time in this survey, IDI measured the intensity of feelings – as opposed to attitudes – toward the government.
“We have found that the space of negative emotions far exceeds the space of positive emotions,” Hermann said. “The dominant negative emotion is disappointment followed by anger and finally alienation.”
Some 45% of the public feel disappointed, the survey showed, with 22.5% feeling angry.Only 7% of Israelis feel satisfaction or trust.
“A particularly interesting and worrying finding from the point of view of the government and its leader is that even among Likud voters, and not least among the voters of the other parties, there is a majority of those whose feelings toward the government are negative,” Hermann concluded.