A Ha'aretz-Dialogue poll reveals what Benjamin Netanyahu realized only too late: the Israeli voter couldn't care less about social and economic issues. The voter cares only about state and security issues, and probably moral and corruption issues too. The poll, conducted by the Dialogue company under the supervision of Professor Camil Fuchs, also shows that more voters think a government led by Amram Mitzna has a better chance of getting the economy out of the economic crisis, than believe Ariel Sharon can do it.
Netanyahu built his entire election campaign against Sharon based on the economic situation. Claiming to be an economic expert, Netanyahu said he would improve the economy and get it out of the crisis Sharon brought us to. But after quickly realizing the economy wasn't so interesting, he abandoned that line and moved to Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian state. But it was too late, apparently. Sharon won.
An earlier Ha'aretz poll reported yesterday that Likud's support had weakened, losing another four Knesset seats and going down from 35 to 31. Today's poll asks whether the frightening information about the economic situation, including the central bank Governor's warning of the possible collapse of a big bank, which was published during the week, had caused the Likud's slide.
The answer is unequivocal: 35 percent said the most important factor is the state and security issues, and only 13.9 percent said the economic situation is what counts.
Therefore the "election economy" displayed by Finance Minister Silvan Shalom, who promised a faster reduction of income tax after the elections, will not bring about a change in next week's poll, even if some naive people believe him.
The poll showed 45 percent believe the economic situation will get even worse next year, but only 24 percent think their personal economic situation will worsen. Hope springs eternal. While 45 percent think things will get worse, the voter expects that he personally will escape the predicament and somehow keep up his standard of living.
The survey also showed nobody wants to listen to the warnings from the Bank of Israel governor. It's scary. Better to close our eyes. Who has the strength to start opening foreign bank accounts, with all the complications, expenses, strange laws and uncertainty.
But the poll also reveals that the public has internalized the connection between the security and economic situation. Most people do not blame the Likud for the security predicament, and do not believe Labor will get us out of it. Fact: the Likud still leads with 31 Knesset seats to Labor's 22, although Labor governments have always improved the economy and fixed what the Likud ruined.
This is how it was after the Menachem Begin/Simcha Ehrlich and Yitzhak Shamir/Yoram Aridor governments which brought hyper-inflation to Israel which Shimon Peres' government fixed. The governments of Yitzhak Rabin, Ehud Barak and Avraham Shochat brought economic growth and thriving. So it is no wonder that 26 percent believe a Mitzna-led government has better chances of getting the economy out of the crisis, while only 21 percent think Sharon has a better chance of doing so. But even if Mitzna is considered better for the economy, it will not change the election results, because the public votes according to state and security issues.
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