Israel – A poll revealed that 62 percent of the public is in favor of a government without the haredi political parties. Poll was conducted last week on a sample of 500 respondents by the Rafi Smith Institute for the Hiddush religious freedom lobbying group. published over the last weekend.

The outgoing 33rd government of Israel was only the fourth administration out of the last 15 since 1981 not to include Agudat Yisrael, the United Torah Judaism party (an alliance of Aguda and the Degel Hatorah party formed in 1988) or Shas.

During the short life of this outgoing government, Yesh Atid in particular has sought to curb the state benefits obtained for the haredi sector by Shas and United Torah Judaism, as well as to accelerate haredi participation in national service and the work force, with varying degrees of success.

Concurrently, liberally inclined modern-Orthodox MKs sought to reform aspects of religious bureaucracy while the haredi parties, which generally insist on the preservation of the religious status quo, were excluded from government.

Asked if they support a new government without the haredi parties, 62% of respondents said yes and 38% said no.

Seventy-six percent of those defining themselves as secular wanted a government without UTJ and Shas, as did 66% of those defining themselves as religiously traditional, and 80% of immigrants from the former Soviet Union.

However, 65% of national- religious respondents and 95% of haredi respondents opposed the exclusion of the haredi parties from government.

Seventy-one percent of Labor voters and 86% of Meretz and Kadima voters opposed the inclusion of haredi parties in the next coalition.

One measure taken by Yesh Atid during the last government was to slash the budget for the state-paid stipend to full time yeshiva students from approximately NIS 1.2 billion down to NIS 649 million in 2013 and NIS 422m. for 2014.

According to the poll, 74% oppose any attempt to once again increase the budget for yeshiva student stipends, with 26% in favor.

“The public has already and justifiably gone into a panic over the possibility that [senior haredi MK] Moshe Gafni will return to direct the state from the Knesset Finance Committee, or that the convicted criminal [and Shas chairman MK] Arye Deri will return to the Ministry of the Interior,” said the director of Hiddush, reform rabbi and attorney, Uri Regev.

He called on the heads of the non-haredi parties including Moshe Kahlon, Avigdor Liberman and Isaac Herzog to declare that they would “answer the will of the electorate and do everything to create a Zionist coalition without Shas or UTJ.”

Regev said however that it must be clear that the general public is not against the haredi community but is opposed to “the policies of coercion, extortion and obstruction of the haredi parties.”