Haaretz-Dialog Poll: Extreme Right Party Overtakes Labor in Elections Forecast

Poll finds the public does not trust the police's motives in opening probe against Lieberman now.

Click here for exclusive Haaretz coverage of the 2009 Israel elections

Less than two weeks before the elections, Kadima has only three Knesset seats less than Likud, but the right wing bloc has grown to 65 Knesset seats while the left bloc has dwindled to 53, according to the Haaretz-Dialog poll supervised by Professor Camil Fuchs, of the Department of Statistics and Operations Research at Tel Aviv University.

The poll shows that Yisrael Beiteinu, led by Avigdor Lieberman, has overtaken Labor and now has 15 Knesset seats compared to Labor's 14. The Pensioners Party, who will be part of any coalition, are still hovering on the Knesset entry threshold with two possible Knesset seats.

Some 22 percent of those interviewed are still undecided. A considerable number of them are fluctuating between Labor and Kadima and between Kadima and Likud. Their final decision will determine the elections' outcome.

Had the elections been held today, Benjamin Netanyahu would be setting up the next government, but his controlling stake according to this poll is only a flimsy 28. (Other polls, such as the one released by Channel 2 last night, give Likud 32 Knesset seats, the minimum needed to maintain a stable government.) Netanyahu will need several parties in his coalition to make up the rest, which will pull in opposite directions.

Most polls published since the election campaign began and earlier predict an advantage of the right bloc over the left-center one, indicating that the nation seems to have decided to go right.

The Haaretz poll, conducted on Tuesday and Wednesday, shows that the public has no confidence in the police's motives vis-a-vis the investigation against Lieberman and his relatives and associates. Only a quarter of those polled believe that the police are fair in renewing the investigation two weeks ahead of the elections, while 42 percent believe the timing is politically motivated.

The results are a severe blow to the police's prestige, even if the investigation is unbiased and could not have been postponed, and the police will be forced ask themselves why the public regards them thusly. About a third of Labor voters and a quarter of Kadima's also suspect the police's motives.

The poll shows the right bloc gaining strength, mainly due to the increase in support for two right wing parties, the National Union and Habayit Hayehudi, which together have seven Knesset seats. Shas looks to win only 10 Knesset seats.

Labor's ascent, which began after the Gaza operation conducted by Defense Minister Ehud Barak, has lost momentum and begun to backslide. Labor has failed to set the national agenda in the elections and to muster additional support beyond the Knesset seats it gained following the military operation.

The New Movement-Meretz is also slipping back to old Meretz standards with votes getting them a mere five Knesset seats.