The Holyland indictments, which taint Jerusalem's former municipal elite with massive corruption, along with the past year’s arrests of mayors on suspicion of the same sorts of crimes, albeit on a much lesser scale, have apparently left their mark on public opinion. About two thirds – 63% - of Israelis think their municipality is infected with corruption.
Over the past year the mayors of Elad, Yehud, Hadera and Afula have been arrested. Four others have been indicted on charges of serious wrongdoing. A poll conducted for Haaretz ahead of next Tuesday’s local elections finds that only 19% of the public think there is no corruption in their local government, while 17% responded that they couldn’t say.
Asked if they intend to vote next Tuesday, only 57% of those interviewed said they would cast their ballot, while 22% said they did not plan to. A fifth – 21% - said they did not know or have not decided yet.
The survey was conducted on Tuesday among a sample of 501 people, with a maximum error margin of 4.4%.
The results are compatible with the low voter turnout in the last local elections. In 2008 the turnout was 51.85%, compared to 66.6% in the turnout for the Knesset election.
Most of the mayors are running for reelection and their rivals are not seen as a real danger to their position. In the 2008 elections, two-thirds of the mayors were reelected for another term.
Asked if they intended to vote for their municipality’s serving mayor or for a challenger, 41% said they would vote for the incumbent, while 39% said they would vote for a rival candidate, while 20% said they hadn't decided.
However, in a few cities a serious fight is expected over the mayor's seat. Jerusalem is one such example, where incumbent Nir Barkat is being challenged by Moshe Leon.
A new mayor will be elected in several cities whose last elected one vacated the seat. These include Ramat Gan, Herzliya, Petah Tikva and Tiberias. In Lod a new mayor will be elected after more than 10 years in which the city has been run by a government-appointed committee.