Only 4 weeks remain until the end of the Knesset’s winter session, which is also the deadline for the passing of the first two amendments of Justice Minister Yariv Levin’s judicial reform: changing the composition of the committee to elect judges, and preventing the High Court from revoking constitutional laws.
And while the mainstream media outlets in Israel have been bombarding their audiences with reports on a massive, nationwide resistance to both bills, a Direct Polls survey published Monday morning offers an entirely different picture.
Direct Polls pointed out that the mainstream media do not feature surveys that ask direct questions about the different components of the reform.
They don’t ask, “Are you in favor of changing the composition of the committee for selecting judges?” or “Are you for or against the involvement of the High Court in invalidating laws and by what majority?” or “Are you for or against limiting the tenure of the president of the Supreme Court?” These are all issues that the reform authors plan to touch on sooner or later, so why don’t the mainstream pollsters ask the public about them?
According to Direct Polls, it’s because the answers to these questions would show a clear support of more than 60% for the vast majority of the proposed changes.
However, this most recent poll also shows some movement in the opposition camp: 1. Benny Gantz’s National Camp party gains three mandates, one from Likud, and two from Yesh Atid, which is getting weaker, contrary to some mainstream polls; and, 2. Benny Gantz’s rise as the best fit to serve as a prime minister among center-left voters. For the first time in a year and a half, Gantz is tied with Yair Lapid for the job, as Lapid loses more than 10% who switched to Gantz.
Why is Gantz rising, and why at the expense of Lapid?
Supporting Judicial Reform
Direct Polls have shown that an overwhelming majority of the public thinks that the justice system needs reform.
♦ 40%, mainly from the right, support the reform in its current form.
♦ An additional 4% would support it without the override clause.
♦ And 34% are “in favor of the reform, but only with agreements and changes that will lead to wider support in the Knesset.”
That’s a total of 78% support for changes in the judicial system, against only 22% who oppose any change and insist on leaving the system as it is.
Among the group that supports the reform “only with agreements and changes that will bring broad support,” 62% are National Camp voters, meaning at least 7 mandates that would join in supporting the reform in addition to the 64 mandates the coalition already counts on.
Chaos and Negotiations
Words like negotiations, debate, and agreement are the hot words these days with center-left politicians, as opposed to Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid) and Merav Michaeli (Labor). But a significant number of commentators and broadcasters who support the “chaos strategy,” according to which the worse it gets, the better, are creating a heavy smoke screen that hides the political realities from the Israeli public and the politicians: the true data show wide support for the reform through negotiations.
Gantz, who has become the grownup in the left-of-center room, is being rewarded by the voters to the tune of three potential mandates. But it will all come down to the March 27 deadline, when all the deals, agreements, and amendments will shine through. If Lapid is reading truthful polls, he, too, probably realizes he must cooperate or suffer humiliating consequences.
Also on TV
Meanwhile, Israelis are voting not only at the ballot boxes, but also in front of the groove tube, and there, too, the swing to the right is evident. So far, according to Direct Polls, their gung-ho anti-reform campaigns have cost the mainstream TV channels an estimated NIS 50 million, as the right-wing Channel 14 has established itself in second place among the nightly news show, leaving News13 and Kan 11 in the dust.
The sample was compiled by Shlomo Filber and Zuriel Sharon through Direct Polls Ltd., for Now14 News, on March 5, 2023, among 1,118 adults (18+) from the entire population in Israel. The statistical sampling error is +-3% with a probability of 95%.