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Corruption Allegations Fail to Dent Netanyahu's Popularity
World

Corruption Allegations Fail to Dent Netanyahu's Popularity

Corruption Allegations Fail to Dent Netanyahu's Popularity

Story Highlights

  • Netanyahu's approval ratings buoyant amid controversy
  • 42% of Israelis have confidence in their national government
  • 73% see corruption as widespread in government

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Even under the shadow of corruption allegations that could end with his indictment, Israel's longtime leader, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, is likely to remain popular with a core group of voters heading into the country's elections in April. A slim majority of Israelis (51%) interviewed last summer -- after news broke that Israeli police had enough evidence to indict him for bribery -- approved of the job he is doing as prime minister.

Line graph. Israeli prime minister earned majority approval for second consecutive year in 2018.

Gallup's most recent survey in Israel took place July 4-Aug. 18, months after allegations surfaced that Netanyahu had traded regulatory approval for a telecommunications company merger for positive media coverage, but well before an indictment started to look more likely.

The slim majority of Israelis who approve of the job Netanyahu is doing is unchanged from the 52% who said the same in 2017, before the current allegations. His approval ratings remain well above the low point of 35% in 2012, measured in the wake of an earlier corruption scandal.

Later polling from other sources suggests Netanyahu's Likud party is still favored to do well in the elections and will likely hold the 30 seats it currently has in the Knesset, if not win more. If Likud at least manages to hold all of these seats, Netanyahu will still have to form a coalition government -- he is likely to do so and hold his position as prime minister. However, Likud's performance may change if Netanyahu is indicted prior to the election.

Most Israelis Perceive Widespread Government Corruption

Netanyahu has faced allegations of corruption in the past, as have several previous Israeli prime ministers. This likely contributes to Israelis' perceptions that corruption in government is widespread, but these views aren't necessarily tied to approval of the prime minister. Nearly three in four Israelis, 73%, say corruption is widespread in the country's government.

Line graph. A majority of Israelis have viewed corruption as widespread in government for more than a decade.

After Netanyahu took office, perceptions of corruption started to decline. They have remained relatively stable since 2012, after earlier allegations of corruption against Netanyahu.

Who Are Netanyahu's Key Supporters?

Netanyahu has positioned himself as the one leader in Israel who can keep the country safe and has bolstered that image by pursuing a close relationship with U.S. President Donald Trump. Netanyahu has also presided over a booming economy, further bolstering his support among Israelis.

Approval for Benjamin Netanyahu, by Key Demographic
2015 2016 2017 2018
% % % %
Overall Israelis 42 39 52 51
Gender
Male 44 39 52 55
Female 40 40 52 48
Age
15-29 39 38 55 50
30-49 47 40 47 49
50+ 40 41 54 55
Annual household income
Poorest 20% 46 29 39 31
Second 20% 35 43 51 51
Middle 20% 43 42 59 61
Fourth 20% 42 45 58 64
Richest 20% 44 38 52 50
Gallup World Poll

Netanyahu's approval remains strong with all but the poorest 20% of Israelis, the only group of voters he has lost support among since 2015. Netanyahu's support base spans all generations of Israelis, but he has picked up considerably more support since 2015 among Israelis who are aged 50 and older.

Israelis Confidence in Government Remains Relatively High

While a majority of Israelis approve of their prime minister, a notably smaller percentage express confidence in the national government. The 42% of Israelis who say they have confidence in their country's national government is consistent with Israelis' confidence levels throughout most of Netanyahu's tenure as prime minister.

Line graph. 42% of Israelis are confident in their national government, consistent with levels since 2013.

Implications

Israel's elections were originally scheduled for November 2019. However, Netanyahu moved them up to April, a move that many perceived as an effort to rescue his political career in the wake of the latest allegations of corruption. Netanyahu, who has now been implicated in three cases of corruption has attempted to go on the offensive, attacking his accusers and giving a widely panned television address where he demanded to be allowed to face witnesses against him prior to the early elections he called.

The call for snap elections, while potentially offering Netanyahu a political lifeline, has also resulted in significant cleavages among many Israeli political parties. Netanyahu's Likud party appears to remain strong -- a position that Netanyahu's approval numbers and the public's confidence in government from prior to the allegations supports. However, other parties in Netanyahu's governing coalition and the opposition have splintered and formed new factions.

These cleavages and reformations appear to have altered the Israeli political landscape. Netanyahu has also managed to cultivate and expand a base of support since 2015. However, he still faces significant legal hazard, if he is charged and convicted. Media reports indicate the indictment could occur in February, prior to the elections.

For complete methodology and specific survey dates, please review Gallup's Country Data Set details.

Learn more about how the Gallup World Poll works.

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