Lapid most ‘disappointing’ politician of the year, poll finds

Survey of Israeli adults finds massive public faith in military, far outstripping trust in Knesset, police and justice system

Ilan Ben Zion, a reporter at the Associated Press, is a former news editor at The Times of Israel. He holds a Masters degree in Diplomacy from Tel Aviv University and an Honors Bachelors degree from the University of Toronto in Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations, Jewish Studies, and English.

Finance Minister Yair Lapid in Jerusalem. July 15, 2013. (photo credit: Miriam Alster/FLASH90)
Finance Minister Yair Lapid in Jerusalem. July 15, 2013. (photo credit: Miriam Alster/FLASH90)

Little more than six months after taking office as Israel’s most popular new political face, a poll published Wednesday found Finance Minister Yair Lapid to be the most disappointing politician of the year.

Lapid’s Yesh Atid won 19 seats in the January 2013 election on a popular platform of economic reform aimed at improving the lot Israel’s middle class. Over a half a million Israelis cast their vote for the new party, 14% of the overall vote, according to the official Central Elections Committee results.

But in a survey of 515 Israeli adults published in Maariv on the eve of the Jewish New Year, Lapid stood head and shoulders over other political leaders who fell short of expectations, with 63 percent of respondents saying he was the most disappointing politician of the year.

“It was an open question,” said Maariv of the Maagar Mochot poll, “and the public immediately threw out his name, almost without hesitation.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu scored second, with 15% of respondents finding his performance in 2013 lackluster, and Economics Minister Naftali Bennett came in third with 8%. Opposition leader Shelly Yachimovich (Labor Party) was fourth most disappointing, according to the poll, with 6%.

Lapid, who often addresses the public in lengthy posts on his Facebook profile, made no remark Wednesday in response to the poll, only wishing everyone a happy new year.

A walloping 80% of respondents said the government, with Lapid at the economic helm, is failing to combat Israel’s high cost of living and real estate prices. Sixty-five percent of the respondents said that after just over half a year in office, they have no trust in Lapid’s assertion that the country’s economic state will improve in the next two years. Only 26% of the Israelis polled said they had faith in the finance minister’s guarantee.

Whereas Lapid flopped in the approval ratings, fellow Yesh Atid member and Education Minister Shai Piron was found to have the most surprisingly good performance of 2013, with 24% of respondents pitching his name. Lapid took 14%, Netanyahu 10%, and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon 8%. Maariv reported that Piron had a 41% overall approval rating from respondents,

In a landslide victory, the IDF was deemed the most trustworthy Israeli public institution, with an average score of 4.29 out of 5 among Israelis polled. Cops and courts, however, ranked significantly lower. The justice system scored 3.12 and the police 2.94.

According to the paper, the military’s stellar ranking in the eye of the Syrian crisis “can be absolutely connected… to the calculated and measured behavior of Netanyahu, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, and Chief of Staff Benny Gantz vis-a -is the events in Syria.”

Israel’s parliament ranked last, with a score of 2.9 out of 5; 29% said they had a high level of trust in the Knesset, 38% said moderate, and 32% said they had a low level of trust in Israel’s elected representatives.

Israel’s public diplomacy, known as “hasbara,” also received poor scores. Asked “what grade would you give the Israeli government’s public relations policy worldwide on the issues relating to the jihadist threat in countries bordering Israel?” 20% said very bad and 18% bad. Only 24% gave the government a positive assessment (15% good, 9% very good), 32% responded moderate, and 6% gave other answers.

The Maagar Mochot poll had a margin of error of 4.5%.

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