Photo: Gil Yohanan
Supreme Court President Dorit Beinish
Photo: Gil Yohanan
only 17% of Israelis put trust in Olmert
Photo: AP

Democracy index: Faith in Supreme Court slipping

Findings show increasing feeling of mistrust towards governmental institutions, aversion to Israeli politics

The Guttman Center at the Israel Democracy Institute (IDI) presented President Shimon Peres with the 2008 Democracy Index on Tuesday morning.


The index, based on a survey in which 1,201 Israelis over the age of 18 participated, displayed the low ranking given to law enforcement authorities. For instance, only 36% of the public place their trust in Israel’s attorney general. Faith in the government declined drastically from 41% to 33%.


It was further revealed that the ongoing dispute between Minister of Justice Daniel Friedmann and Supreme Court President Dorit Beinish have affected the Israeli public. In 2008 a 12% decrease was noted in the amount of trust Israelis had in the Supreme Court.


The findings show that only 49% of the public believe that the Supreme Court is trustworthy, compared with 61% in 2007.


After being presented with the index Peres said, “Democracy in Israel is in good condition, but our democratic institutions are in a state of crisis.” He noted that world politics in general are suffering from a leadership crisis.


According to the index, the IDF stands at the top of the list of institutions which the public trusts most, at 71% —a decrease of 3 percentage points from 2007. The selection of Peres as president assisted the presidential institution in repairing itself. Today, 47% of the public put their trust in the president compared to 22% last year.


The political establishments in Israel again received votes of mistrust from the public. Confidence in the Knesset declined from 33% to 29% and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert received credence from solely 17% of the population. The political parties received the lowest amount of trust, 15%. The amount of faith in the media is at 37%, a decline of 8% from 2007.


‘Media protects democracy’

On the other hand, the index showed, the media is considered the institution that “safeguards Israeli democracy in the best way possible.” Thirty-six percent of Israelis classified the media as the body maintaining democracy in the most significant manner. After many years, TV stations, newspapers, radio and the internet pushed the Supreme Court out of first place. The court received only 35% of the votes for most significant institution.


Sixteen percent of the respondents mentioned the Knesset as the institution that best safeguard's democracy, placing it ahead of the prime minister (13%) in this category for the first time ever. 


The multitude of investigations involving Israeli political figures has affected the public. Ninety percent of the public feels that Israel is afflicted with corruption. Sixty percent believe that the level of corruption is very high, while 30% believe that it is quite high.


The survey indicated that only nine percent believe there is very little corruption in Israel, and just one percent thinks that there is no corruption at all. Over half of those asked (51%) feel that corruption is necessary in order to reach the top echelons of Israeli politics nowadays.


The State is suffering from devaluation in its position as opposed to civil organizations, according to the poll. Fifty-seven percent of Israelis said that the services provided by civil organizations are better than those provided by the country. However, most of the respondents said that they prefer receiving state services.


Fifty-three percent agreed with the claim that it is preferable for the country to continue its previous involvement with social and economic issues, as opposed to 28% preferring a decrease in governmental involvement in these issues.


According to the Democracy Institute, the Israeli public believes that those elected act in accordance with the advancement of their personal issues and are not attentive to their constituents’ needs and desires.


If these tendencies continue, civilian involvement in politics will decrease, the institute said.  


80% proud to be Israeli

Despite the array of worrisome statistics, a trend of improvement was noted in the amount of satisfaction felt by the public regarding democracy in Israel. Forty-three percent are satisfied with the democracy apparent as opposed to 34% last year, the survey showed. 


The Democracy Index also revealed that 80% of the population is proud to be Israeli. Eighty-three percent of the survey’s respondents noted that they intend on continuing to live in Israel in the long-run. These statistics display the emotional loyalty to the country and not the way the citizens feel about the current situation.


Internationally, there is an apparent improvement in the scores Israel received from think tanks around the world, but no change occurred regarding Israel’s democratic ranking of 36. The reason for this is the significant improvement prevalent in other countries.


The Democracy Index’s findings show that there is an increasing feeling of mistrust towards governmental institutions and an aversion to the country’s politics. In contrast, Israelis demand that the State increase its central role in the political-social-economic arena.


According to the index, the Israeli public is still interested in politics and feels a sense of belonging to the country. However, its trust in Israel’s decision-makers is very low. A sense of frustration regarding the country’s repudiation of responsibilities to its citizens’ economic and social welfare is also prevalent.


“We are in an extremely dangerous situation in which Israelis are turning their backs to politics and rejecting all politicians, expressing mistrust in the country’s central institutions and searching for a national lifesaver,” said IDI president Arik Carmon.



פרסום ראשון: 06.10.08, 14:39
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