A year after general elections, the Israeli public is overall pleased – or at least is not seeking any changes, a poll carried out by the Smith Institute and Ynet revealed Tuesday.
Support for Likud, the leading party, continues to grow, and it is at the top of a strong and stable right-wing bloc. The Left and Center parties are shifting between themselves the few seats they have, and the most popular political personality is Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar – despite the lack of public satisfaction with the education system as a whole.
The survey shows that if general elections to the Knesset were to be held today, the Likud party would gain strength and win 32 seats, compared to the 27 it received in last year's election.
Kadima would lose two seats, and go down from 28 to 26. Yisrael Beiteinu would remain relatively stable, losing only one seat, going down from 15 to 14. The Labor party is in dire straits: Despite relative satisfaction with Defense Minister Ehud Barak, the party he leads came up under the 10-seat threshold in this week's survey, and won only eight seats.
Shas' maintains its stability, as do most of the other parties. The only party to experience a certain boost is Meretz, which received in the poll five seats, compared to the three it won in last year's election.
The survey also shows that only 60% of Kadima's voters believe they would vote for the party again if elections were held today, and only 70% of Likud and Yisrael Beiteinu voters could say for certain that they would continue to support their respective parties.
But Labor is served the biggest blow in this week's poll, as only 37% of the people who voted for it last year say they would do so again. Some 16% are considered "swing votes", with half of them having voted for Kadima, Labor or Meretz.
Sa'ar most popular minister
The surprising results of the survey show that the Israeli electorate seems to be looking ahead, to the next generation of leaders. It is quietly seeking an alternative, someone to replace the veteran guard one day.
As a result, the big winner is Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar. The Tel Avivian minister, who combines Likud values, political moderation and lightheartedness, who charms the next generation, was voted the most successful minister out of the many ministers in the Netanyahu government.
Sa'ar bypassed his comrades in the poll, and was elected by 12% of the respondents as the most successful minister. On the other hand only 3% of the respondents said he was the least successful minister in the government.
The respondents were less indifferent to Defense Minister Ehud Barak. Despite the sense of security he brings to the Israeli public, he is still fighting for positive points: Only 11% of the public believes he is the best minister in cabinet, while 15% feel he is the least successful minister.
Foreign Ministry Avigdor Lieberman, despite his controversial political statements, received the support of 9% of the respondents, but 14% said they believe he is the least successful minister. Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz is also struggling to keep the public's support: Only 2% believe he is the most successful minister, compared to 8% who said he is the least successful.
Housing and Construction Minister Ariel Atias, Welfare and Social Services Minister Isaac Herzog, Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan, have gained a certain degree of popularity: Atias was elected by 4% of the respondents as the most successful minister, while only 1% said they find him the least successful. Herzog and Erdan both received the support of 3% of the respondents, and none of those questioned said they feel they are the least successful.
Foreign relations in trouble
One of the most interesting points revealed by the poll is the lack of accord between the personal results of the ministers and public sentiment regarding the government's handling of various issues.
To the question "Which issue was best handled by the government," 16% percent responded that the security issue was best dealt with, while 12% said they think defense issues were not properly addressed.
However, the one subject that the public is most dissatisfied with is education, despite the fact that the education minister was ranked the most popular. Only 4% of the public is satisfied with the government's treatment of the subject, and 19% believe that education is the area most poorly addressed by the government.
The foreign minister, who received the lowest marks on a personal level, also received low marks on a professional. Only 2% of the public think that Israel's foreign relations are being handled well, whereas 7% believe they are not.
The Finance Ministry can breathe easy. Eleven percent believe that the economy is being well addressed, and 11% also believe it is not.