While just over half of Israelis think the Benjamin Netanyahu regime is just as corrupt as Ehud Olmert's government was, the former prime minister won the contest for most corrupt ever, hands down.

According to a University of Haifa poll that is to be presented today at a conference, "Is Democracy in Crisis?," marking the inauguration of a study program on democracy, 52% of Israelis feel the two governments were equally sordid. Only 18.7% of respondents said they thought the Netanyahu government was worse, while 29.5% said they thought Olmert's was.

University teachers Doron Navot and Daphna Canetti polled 804 adults in June 2009 in telephone interviews. Asked to rank Netanyahu's government, 45% of respondents judged it to be "highly corrupt," 25% thought it was "moderately corrupt" and a third thought it was only slightly or not tainted.

Olmert "won" the spot of most corrupt prime minister in Israeli history by a landslide, with 52% of the vote. Netanyahu placed second, with 17.8%, while Ariel Sharon was judged third-most corrupt.

They were followed by Yitzhak Rabin (3.7%), Shimon Peres (2.9%), David Ben-Gurion (2.2%), Golda Meir (1.7%) and Moshe Sharett (1%).

Yitzhak Shamir and Levy Eshkol were considered the cleanest of the lot, with just 0.8% of respondents putting them at the top of the list.

Olmert faces charges that include fraud, breach of trust, forgery (of corporate documents) and failure to report income. He has denied all the charges. Olmert is the first prime minister in Israeli history to face graft charges.

Back to the survey. Many Israelis are evidently irritated by the coalition agreements that give special monetary allocations to yeshivas, with 53.2% of respondents characterizing the practice as highly corrupt, 26.5% as moderately corrupt and 20.3% as not at all corrupt.

Another practice on which respondents frowned is the appointment of an individual who is suspected of criminal offenses - such as Avigdor Lieberman - to high office. More than 54% of respondents judged the practice to be highly corrupt, while 12.5% thought it only moderately corrupt and 33.5% thought it was either not corrupt or only slightly so.

A majority of those surveyed disapproved of politicians reneging on their campaign promises: 60% said that breaking a campaign promise is corrupt, while a quarter said there was no relationship between campaign promises and corruption.

An even larger majority feel that things are getting worse when it comes to ethics: 70% said they feel that Israel is more corrupt now than ever before, while only 10% think that matters are improving.

Responses were split about Israel and the rest of the world: 40% think it's more corrupt, 40% think it isn't and only 20% think it's less corrupt.

Two-thirds of respondents (66%) said they feel that political corruption has become a plague, while 8% claimed to have been asked for bribes.

Exactly one-third feel that politicians are to blame for corruption because "they've lost all shame," and 22% felt the culprit was a "crisis of leadership." Only 13% felt the problem is feeble enforcement and 8% felt the public was to blame because it just doesn't care.