Despite a drop in support over the past few weeks, the joint Likud-Yisrael Beytenu list is projected to win 34 seats in the 19th Knesset. The two parties currently jointly hold 42 seats.
According to a new poll commissioned by Israel Hayom and conducted by New Wave Research earlier this week, the joint list will win many more seats than any other party in the Jan. 22 elections.
The poll, which comes three weeks before the elections, reinforces the conventional wisdom that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his political allies will stay in power for another term. The national-religious Habayit Hayehudi, which is currently polling at 14 seats, and Shas and United Torah Judaism – which are projected at 11 and five seats respectively – would allow Netanyahu to form a 64-member coalition.
The Knesset member who has the best chance at forming a government usually gets the nod from the president and has several weeks to present a governing coalition that has the support of a majority of the Knesset’s 120 representatives. In the last elections, in 2009, President Shimon Peres tasked Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu with forming the government despite Likud’s finishing in second place (after Kadima), owing to the overall strength of the Right and its ultra-Orthodox allies in the Knesset.
While the center-left bloc is expected to win 56 seats, it is unlikely to pose a threat to the Right’s dominance unless the ultra-Orthodox parties switch allegiances. Each camp appears to have a relatively high proportion of undecided voters who could change how the seats are distributed between like-minded parties on each side of the spectrum.
When all is said and done, the 19th Knesset is unlikely to see a change to the balance of power, with the right-religious bloc comprising 64 members, compared with the center-left’s 56. Likud-Yisrael Beytenu, despite shedding support to Habayit Hayehudi in recent weeks, appears to have stopped the bleeding for now. If Habayit Hayehudi’s latest surge continues it will likely be the third-largest faction in the Knesset. It is unclear, however, whether the party will be able to sustain its momentum over the next 19 days. It may very well turn out that it peaked too soon.
Labor, which won 13 seats in 2009, will get only three additional seats this time around, according to the poll. The centrist Hatnuah (“The Movement”) party, founded by ousted Kadima leader Tzipi Livni shortly before the elections, is projected to win 10 seats. Yesh Atid (“There is a Future”), another centrist party led by former journalist and TV host Yair Lapid, is expected to win 11. The left-wing Meretz party is expected to have four Knesset members. The Arab parties Ra’am-Ta’al and the National Democratic Assembly are projected to win four and three seats respectively. The communist, largely Arab Hadash party is expected to win four seats.
Kadima, the centrist party that won the most seats in the past two elections and had two of its leaders serve as prime ministers, may be wiped off the political map this time around if it continues to hover at two Knesset seats. Shas renegade Rabbi Haim Amsalem, who has formed his own faction called Am Shalem (“Complete Nation”), is also projected to win two seats. The ultra-nationalist Strong Israel led by MKs Aryeh Eldad and Michael Ben Ari will probably fail to garner enough votes to qualify for a Knesset seat. (Parties need to win 2 percent of the valid vote count to be represented in the Knesset.)
Netanyahu has an overwhelming advantage when it comes to the question of who is the most qualified to serve as prime minister, the poll shows, with 43.2% naming the incumbent prime minister. Only 12.9% chose Hatnuah leader Tzipi Livni (who led Kadima in the 2009 elections against Netanyahu), while Labor Chairwoman Shelly Yachimovich received 10.3%, despite polls placing her as the leader of the second largest party (and the largest faction on the Left).
The prime minister seems to have had the upper hand in his recent spat with President Shimon Peres this week. After the latter called Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas “a partner for peace” and said Israel should aggressively pursue a permanent status agreement, Netanyahu attacked him, saying he would not pursue what he believed to be Peres’ reckless path of concessions and pullouts. Only 33% said they agreed with Peres’ assessment, while 55% said Abbas was not a partner for a deal.
According to the poll, a significant minority of the public is in favor of pressing ahead with construction plans in east Jerusalem in defiance of international pressure (44.6%). Only 39.5% believe Israel should declare a moratorium on new housing units beyond the city’s pre-1967 borders.
Finally, 76.2% said they were optimistic about 2013, while only 16.4% said the new year would see a turn for the worse.
Read more at ISRAEL HAYOM