The Leading Candidate for President: "I Don't Know"

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Although the president of Israel is elected by the Knesset not by the public, it is interesting to explore the public's assessment of the candidates. Two months before the elections, who do Israeli's think is most suitable for the job? Find out in this mini-survey from IDI's Guttman Center.

Some two months before the Israeli presidential elections, it is still not clear who the final candidates will be; that is, it is not yet known which candidates will have the support of at least ten members of Knesset that is required for nomination. Several people, however, have expressed their desire to be candidates for the position. Although the president is ultimately elected by the Knesset rather than the Israeli public, it is interesting to explore which candidates are seen by the public as being the more suitable candidates for the position of the 10th President of the State of Israel.

In a Guttman Center Mini-Survey conducted in April 2014, the most striking finding was that much of the public (38%) did not know or refused to answer the question regarding which candidate they think is best suited to be president of Israel. In particular, the percentage of Arabs who did not know or declined to answer the question was especially high at 76%. Younger respondents were also more likely to answer "I don't know" or to refuse to answer than respondents in older age groups.

  • Of the people who have declared their intention to run for president, MK Reuven Rivlin is the leading candidate by far among the Israeli public, with 27% support. He is followed by Prof. Dan Shechtman (11%), MK Benjamin "Fouad" Ben-Eliezer (10%), retired Supreme Court Justice Dalia Dorner (8%), and MK Meir Sheetrit (6%) (Figure 1).
  • Among Jews, the leading candidate MK Reuven Rivlin (32%), while among Arabs, the leading candidate is MK Benjamin "Fouad" Ben-Eliezer (11%) (Figure 1).
  • Among Jews, support for candidates is associated with the self-definition of level of religiosity of the respondents. Reuven Rivlin enjoys particularly high support among Jews who define themselves as religious (67%), while Dan Shechtman (20%) and Dalia Dorner (12%) enjoy relatively high rates of support among those who define themselves as secular. Meir Sheetrit receives a relatively high rate of support among traditional religious and traditional non-religious respondents (10% and 14% respectively) (Figure 2).
  • As expected, Rivlin is the preferred candidate among respondents who identify with the political-security right and the moderate right. Among those who define themselves as centrists, the leading candidate is also Rivlin, followed by Dan Shechtman. Among those who define themselves as left wing, Dan Shechtman and Benjamin Ben-Eliezer are the leading candidates, while Dalia Dorner is the leading candidate among those who define themselves as moderate left (this emerges from the processing of data from Figure 3).          


Figure 1:  Who do you think is best suited to be the
next President of the State of Israel?
(Total sample, segmented into Jews and Arabs)

 Figure 2: The most suitable candidate to be the next President of the State of Israel
(By religious affiliation; Jews only)

Figure 3: The most suitable candidate to be the next President of the State of Israel
(By security-political position; total sample)

About the Survey

The survey was conducted by telephone by the Midgam Research Institute, on April 28–29 2014. The survey included 600 respondents, of whom 500 respondents were Jewish and 100 were Arab. The survey was conducted in Hebrew, Arabic and Russian. Responses were weighted so that the total sample constituted a representative sample of the adult population of Israel aged 18 and over. The maximum measurement error for the entire sample is ±4.1%.