Netanyahu’s popularity suffers major blow in wake of tax hikes

Netanyahu’s popularity suffers major blow in wake of tax hikes

Economic austerity package sinks prime minister’s ratings to lowest since taking office, poll finds

Aaron Kalman is a former writer and breaking news editor for the Times of Israel

Benjamin Netanyahu (left) and Yuval Steinitz (photo credit: Uri Lenz/Flash90)
Benjamin Netanyahu (left) and Yuval Steinitz (photo credit: Uri Lenz/Flash90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s popularity is the lowest since he took office three years ago, a poll published in the daily Haaretz on Thursday found.

Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz’s popularity has also reached a nadir, according to the poll, which asked respondent about financial issues.

Both men have been the public faces of a recent series of tax hikes and package of budget cuts, likely prompting the low numbers.

The poll, conducted by Dialog and Tel Aviv University, found that 60 percent of Israelis were displeased with the way Netanyahu was functioning as prime minister. Only 31% said they supported Netanyahu’s actions.

The numbers are the lowest since Netanyahu took office in 2009. The prime minister has generally enjoyed approval ratings hovering around 50%, with periodic large drops coming as a result of economic issues.

Regarding Steinitz, 67% said they were unhappy with his policies and actions, while only 19% supported him.

The results were the latest in a series of polls conducted by the newspaper. Netanyahu’s popularity has been dropping in the past three polls, and it dropped by 10% between during the month of July.

The tax hikes seemed to be the first in a series of steps aimed at reducing Israel’s deficit.

Labor Party head Shelly Yachimovich spoke out repeatedly against the government’s financial plan. She said Netanyahu and Steinitz were “detached from the people” and their measures would harm the working class.

Economists predicted that the deficit may reach NIS 58 billion in 2013, nearly double its target of NIS 30 billion, Globes reported. The 2012 deficit target of 2% of the overall GDP, or NIS 20 billion, is expected to be closer to NIS 40 billion, the report said.

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