Poll: Half of Israeli Arabs don’t intend to vote in January elections
83% say they don’t trust the government; Israeli-Palestinian conflict tops list of concerns for just 8%.
Eighty-two percent of Israeli Arabs place little or no faith in the government and 67 percent lack confidence in the Arab political parties, according to a survey on the election patterns of Israeli Arabs that will be presented today at a conference at the University of Haifa.
The Statnet poll, which was conducted late last month on behalf of the university’s political science department and the Institute for the Advancement of Democracy in Arab Society, shows that about half of the 455 respondents would not be voting in the upcoming Knesset elections – similar to the last national election, in which 54 percent of Israel’s Arabs cast a vote.
One reason given for the decision is that the respondents felt no party represented them, especially because of the multiplicity of Arab parties.
“There is a clear lack of confidence in the system, and also in the possibility of reaching a peace agreement with the Palestinians,” said As’ad Ghanem, a political scientist at the University of Haifa who will be presenting the poll results together with his colleague Nohad Ali, a sociologist.
Voting for Arab parties
Of the respondents who said they planned to vote, most said they would vote for an Arab party.
Seventy-nine percent of respondents, which included Druze and Bedouin in the Negev and Galilee, said they had little or no faith in state institutions, especially the Knesset. Fifty-seven percent said the Arab parties should be part of the coalition so they could influence decision-making on the national level.
Ghanem said the survey shows declining interest in the peace process and greater emphasis on issues affecting daily life.
When asked what issues worried them most, 47 percent of Israeli Arabs cited unemployment, housing, health and education. Some 26 percent said they were most worried about the inequality in the character of the Jewish state and the danger to democracy.
Placing third in the scale of worries was the increasing violence in Arab society, with 19 percent saying this was their greatest concern.
Only 8 percent of respondents said the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was their primary concern.
All the same, said Ghanem, the respondents’ interest in the events taking place in Syria and the rise of political Islam showed that Israel’s Arabs “do not live in a bubble but are influenced by what’s going on in the Arab world.”
Some 60 percent of Israeli Arabs said they supported the rise of political Islam inthe Arab world in the wake of the Arab Spring and the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya. About 75 percent said they supported bringing down the Assad regime in Syria.