With elections looming, poll finds 26% think government’s economic policy failed
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With elections looming, poll finds 26% think government’s economic policy failed

Public wants more funds for health, education, transportation, but doesn’t trust that a tax hike will boost public services, Israel Democracy institute survey says

Illustrative: Ministers attend the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem (Kobi Gideon/GPO/Flash90)
Illustrative: Ministers attend the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem (Kobi Gideon/GPO/Flash90)

A quarter of Israelis have assigned a “fail” grade to the outgoing government’s economic policy, mainly due to what they believe is poor and negligent leadership, a survey by the Israel Democracy Institute shows.

The poll was conducted in July, ahead of elections to be held on September 17, for the second time this year.

It shows that the majority of the public believes that higher taxes won’t really be used for improving the services the state provides to its citizens, and that in fact, statements or economic promises don’t have any real significance.

The public is concerned about a variety of socioeconomic issues, and believes that the health, education, social welfare and transportation budgets must be increased, the poll shows. There was some support for a larger defense budget, and a third of respondents back across-the-board budget cuts to curb the deficit.

“The public has a clear position on social economic priorities, with the vast majority (93%) interested in increasing the share of the health budget,” said Prof. Karnit Flug, vice president of the Israeli Democracy Institute and a former governor of the Bank of Israel, in a statement.

Only a small minority, 11%, said it was appropriate to increase government services by increasing the budget deficit, she said. In addition, respondents were unwilling to pay more taxes, which stems from a “distrust of the government” and is based on concerns that any tax hike won’t result in better services, she said.

The survey revealed that 45% of the respondents gave the government’s economic policy a low grade. In a ranking from 1 (fail) to 5 (excellent), 26% chose a ranking of 1 and another 18.9% a ranking of 2. In contrast, a total of 24.5% gave the government a grade of very good or above, with 5.6% rating its performance a 5 and 18.9% giving it a 4. Arab respondents, 63%, secular Jews, 54%, and low-income populations, 50%, were among the populations that gave the government the lower scores, the statement said.

Thirty-eight percent said the defense budget should be increased, compared with 28% who think that it should be reduced.

An overwhelming majority of Israelis (93%) believe that the health budget should be increased, while 82% think the education budget should rise. A high proportion also supports increasing the welfare budget (72%) and transportation (71%).

Most Israelis (86%) believe that social services should be increased (such as education, health, social security and transportation), but only 37% of the overall population are willing to pay more taxes to fund such an increase. Over half (54%) of people aged 18-24 said they were willing to pay more taxes for more services, compared to about a quarter (26%) of those aged 55-64.

Of those who responded that they were unwilling to pay more taxes, 75% said it was because they did not believe the extra tax revenue would be diverted to civil services.

The survey was conducted by the Smith Institute for the Israeli Democracy Institute, among the general population of Israel. The survey sample is a representative sample of the population according to gender, age, region of residence, nationality, education, and degree of religiousness among Jews, the statement said.

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