The Winograd Report released on Wednesday did not cause a dramatic change in public opinion regarding Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister and Labor Chairman Ehud Barak, a public opinion poll conducted Thursday indicates. Apparently, not only the political leadership but the public, as well, remained indifferent to the report. The public seems to have put the Second Lebanon War behind it and does not see the report, which raised a huge media storm on Wednesday, as an event that heralds political changes.
The Haaretz-Dialog survey, conducted under the supervision of Prof. Camil Fuchs of Tel Aviv University, finds that most of the public believes Olmert should resign following the report. But compared to the public's feelings after the interim Winograd report released nine months ago, support for Olmert has increased. Perhaps the public does not feel elections should be held right now.
Ehud Barak, who will soon decide how to act after the report, may find support in the survey for staying in the government. The number of people who believe he should resign immediately - 36 percent - is exactly the same as those who want him to stay in government. The same number also believes Olmert should stay in office.
Barak and Olmert have become something of Siamese twins. The public believes both are ill-suited to be prime minister. Two months ago, 24 percent of the public supported Barak's staying in office following the approaching release of the Winograd Report. In other words, despite its severe findings regarding the prime minister and other ministers' performance during the war, the report did not change the public's perception of his moves. It even bolstered its desire to keep him in office and help to correct the flaws and deficiencies in the army.
Barak is the most interesting figure in the political arena today. He faces a dilemma - he can either renege on his election promise (to resign following a harsh report) and take the fire, or make a move that could bring about early elections.
It is clear that in the present circumstances, elections spell political suicide for both Barak and the Labor Party. All the polls show a steady, clear majority for the right wing, which promises a rightist Knesset.
This poll also examines the suitability of Barak, Olmert, Tzipi Livi and Benjamin Netanyahu to be prime minister. The public support for Livni has increased.
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