One day after Benjamin Netanyahu and Shaul Mofaz shocked their colleagues and the nation by unveiling their agreement on a unity government, opinion polls published Wednesday showed profound skepticism about both their motivations and the likelihood of them passing the radical legislation they promised.
Fifity-one percent of respondents to a poll in Haaretz said that the new government would not be able to pass a law demanding army or national service from the ultra-Orthodox; only 34% said they anticipated a new law to replace the Tal Law on this issue, which was struck down by the Supreme Court earlier this year as unconstitutional. Mofaz said Tuesday that a legal requirement for national service for all was one of the central goals of the new unity alliance.
Similarly, 54% said they did not believe the new government would reform the electoral system, another of Mofaz’s key pledges, which Netanyahu also said he supported. Only 26% believed electoral reform would now be implemented.
A poll in Maariv combined the two issues, asking whether the new government would legislate on national service and electoral reform. Nearly half — 46.7% — of respondents did not believe the new government would be successful in either area, with 37.7% saying it would be.
In Haaretz, 63 percent of respondents said the coalition was created for narrow political reasons, and only 23% said it was for the sake of the country’s future. Netanyahu and Mofaz stressed repeatedly at their joint press conference Tuesday that they had joined forces “in the national interest.”
In the Maariv poll, Mofaz fared particularly badly in a question specific to his entry into the coalition, with 70.6% believing he did it to ensure his political survival and only 16.6% believing it was for the good of the country.
The public seems split on its attitude to the coalition, with Maariv finding that 31% are indifferent to it, 30.7% support it and 29.9% are against it. However, 50.9% believe that the coalition agreement was politically justified and in the interests of the state, with 34.8% saying the opposite. An Israel Hayom poll found 39.6% of Israelis supporting the new coalition, with 31.9 oppposing it.
The Maariv poll also showed that a solid majority, 57.4%, believe the new government will stay in power until the next elections, scheduled for fall 2013.
In both polls, the percentage of respondents replying “I don’t know” to various questions was relatively high, ranging between 13 and 20%.
On the plus side, the Maariv poll revealed that a slim majority, 44.9%, versus 39.5%, believes that the unity coalition advances Israel’s position vis-à-vis the Iranian nuclear threat.