Poll: Kahlon Would Win 20 Seats as Head of New 'Social' Party in Israel

Popular outgoing Likud Communications Minister Moshe Kahlon has been looking into forming his own party ahead of upcoming elections.

Yossi Verter
Yossi Verter
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Yossi Verter
Yossi Verter

Outgoing Likud Communications Minister Moshe Kahlon has over the past several days been looking into the possibility of establishing his own social justice-oriented party and running in the January 22 Knesset election as the head of the new party.

A poll conducted within the past two days by a well-known polling group (whose identity is known to Haaretz ) is projecting that such a party with Kahlon at its helm would garner about 20 seats in the 120-seat Knesset. The poll also projects that if Kahlon and former Kadima party leader Tzipi Livni were to join forces and run on a united Knesset ticket, they would have the potential of leading the party to 26 seats in the next Knesset.

Kahlon shared his deliberations about the prospect of forming such a party with a number of friends and political associates over the past two days. On Tuesday evening, Kahlon attended a political conference of Yemenite Likud members. A number of those present heard him say that he was indeed considering setting up a new party but had not yet reached a final decision.

The poll in question was not commissioned directly by Kahlon, but the survey's findings were presented to him privately the day before yesterday. As far as is known, Kahlon has spoken about his potential plans with Livni and other political figures, including some in Likud.

Incidentally, Livni is due to meet today with former Kadima head and prime minister Ehud Olmert to discuss a range of political scenarios, including the prospect of the two running on a joint ticket headed by Olmert.

The public opinion poll in question specifically looked at Kahlon's electoral prospects. Experience shows that in polls of this nature, which shine the spotlight on one particular individual, the tendency is generally to compliment the person and in the process project an inflated amount of political support for him.

Kahlon announced two weeks ago that he was quitting political life to take a time-out of about two years. His departure sparked reports of friction between him and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu due to differences of opinion on Likud's socioeconomic policy. Kahlon denied these assertions at a joint faction meeting with Netanyahu, but the following day announced his resignation, all the while insisting that he was not leaving Likud because he supported its approach and would work on behalf of the party in the election campaign.

He also agreed to participate in the team developing policy for the first 100 days of Netanyahu's next term as prime minister. The day before yesterday, he led the Likud convention session at which Netanyahu secured the party's approval for a joint election ticket with Yisrael Beiteinu. At the end of the session, Netanyahu turned to Kahlon and said: "Moshe, you were born into Likud and will remain in Likud."

In retrospect, it's possible that Netanyahu's comment was the result of rumors that he too had heard about Kahlon's intentions.

Another unconfirmed version making the rounds Tuesday among the Likud leadership was that Kahlon is acting in cooperation with Netanyahu. He will form a social justice party that will join Netanyahu's coalition and Kahlon will serve as finance minister.

Kahlon was unavailable for comment on Tuesday night.

Moshe Kahlon speaks with PM Benjamin Netanyahu during a Likud party meeting at the Knesset in Jerusalem, Oct. 15, 2012.Credit: Reuters



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