Benjamin Netanyahu Still Leading in Polls and Experts Can't See Reason Behind It
Recent media surveys reveal that if elections were held today, the former PM would get 34 out of 120 seats at the Knesset. Nearly 64 percent of those asked said they still saw him as the most suitable candidate to lead Israel.
Benjamin Netanyahu still enjoys the public's support despite he is not standing at the helm of Israel anymore. A recent poll, conducted by channel 12, revealed that if elections were held today, his Likud party would get 34 out of 120 seats at the Israeli Parliament, the Knesset. This is four seats more than what he obtained in the elections that were held earlier this year.
Another survey carried out by one of the leading news websites revealed even more striking findings. When compared to the current leader Naftali Bennett and his partner Yair Lapid, Netanyahu is still leading in polls getting 64 percent of all votes.
Bennett, Lapid and Defence Minister Benny Gantz garnish 4.74, 18.21 and 1.2 percent respectively.
Netanyahu’s ratings soar despite he had made a number of mistakes during his rule that lasted over 10 years.
On an international level, he is often accused of forging alliances with the Republicans, thus deteriorating relations with the Democrats. He was blamed for souring ties with a number of European states and for expanding Israel's settlement activity in the West Bank, something that hurt the country's stance on the global arena.
Internally, he was slammed for splitting the Israeli society into the right and the left camps. He was criticised for widening the gaps between the rich and the poor, and for delegitimising Israel's key establishments, including the police and the judiciary.
© AP Photo / Oded BaliltyFILE - In this Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2019 file photo, ultra-Orthodox Jews watch Rabbi Israel Hager vote in Bnei Brak, Israel. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called on his rival, Benny Gantz, to join a unity government, after unprecedented repeat elections returned a near tie between the two main parties.
FILE - In this Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2019 file photo, ultra-Orthodox Jews watch Rabbi Israel Hager vote in Bnei Brak, Israel. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called on his rival, Benny Gantz, to join a unity government, after unprecedented repeat elections returned a near tie between the two main parties.
© AP Photo / Oded Balilty
More recently, during the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic in February 2020, he has made a number of mistakes too. He closed down the country three times during one year, damaging Israel's economy. He gave out money indiscriminately to those, who have lost their jobs during the pandemic and didn't have any plan on how to encourage companies to re-employ those people.
His government didn't lock down the airport, paving a way for the entry of new COVID-19 variants, and the regulations it gave were often confusing.
And yet, even during the pandemic, the majority of the public thought he was functioning well and was successfully steering the country through the raging crisis.
Reasons for Success
Israeli experts have long tried to answer the question what made Netanyahu so successful in the eyes of many Israelis.
Over his more than a decade in office, he managed to produce a number of big achievements. He was the driving force for opening Israel's economy and for developing its high-tech. He was the iron fist that tackled acute security issues, he was the one who brought five normalisation deals with a number of Muslim nations and it was him, who secured the country with millions of doses of anti-COVID-19 vaccines.
But his achievements were not the only reason for the high popularity. Another one was his ability to advertise himself. Unlike his successor, Bennett, who is mostly keeping a low profile, the former PM made sure to give out interviews left, right and centre. He stressed his accomplishments, tweeted, interacted with supporters on Facebook and toured the country, taking pictures with passers-by.
Gradually, Israelis started to believe that Netanyahu was the man of achievements. He has been hailed as a magician able to deliver the most unbelievable results. For many, he has become one of Israel's most important assets and a leader that should not be replaced.
Now that he is gone, many Israelis look around and think that among the current politicians they have no alternative.
It is not only about the fact that Israel's politicians lack the charisma of the former premier. For many Israelis, they lack an ideological core, they are fragmented and divided and thus cannot produce a leader.
Others also believe their leader was removed from his place unlawfully. They think that the March elections have been stolen and that the current government is not legitimate.
They are waiting that once this coalition collapses, Netanyahu will be back in the premiership seat and they hope it will happen sooner rather than later.