2 in 3 Israelis still interested in politics

Even though everything in Israel appears to be grounded in political maneuvering, the 2009 Israel Democracy Index shows that there is a waning interest in politics on the part of the public. Whereas 76 percent of Israelis were interested or very interested in political issues in 2003, the proportion dropped to 73% in 2006 and 66% in 2009. All three were election years. Nonetheless, an international comparison showed that in only two out of 32 countries was there higher interest in politics than in Israel. Arab citizens, according to the survey, are more detached from politics than the rest of the public, with only 39% expressing an interest. If anyone doubts the extent to which the media influences public opinion, attitudes to corruption would indicate otherwise, given that the media is the main source of information about corruption. Some 89% of the public believes there is corruption in Israel and this figure has remained constant since 2003. Some 37% of respondents said Israel is highly corrupt, and has more corruption than in other Western democracies. Moreover, over 50% of the public (other than Arabs) believe that politicians take up their careers for personal gain. Trust in the presidency has unfailingly been higher than trust in the Knesset, the police and the Supreme Court, and this continues to be the case. Trust in the key institutions of the state was registered as follows: The president, 60 percent; the Knesset, 38%; political parties, 21%; police 40%; the Supreme Court, 57%; and the IDF, 79%. The army, despite revelations that tend to tarnish its image, has consistently enjoyed the highest public trust, with 2004 as its best year since the introduction of the Democracy Index in 2003. In 2004, trust in the IDF peaked at 86%. It was also the best year for trust in the president, at 73%. Trust in the police this year is at its lowest ebb. In 2003 and 2004, trust in the police was at 66%. From 2004 to 2007, there was a steady decline, going down to 41%. An improvement in 2008 produced an upswing to 47%. Then this year, there was another sharp 7% decline.