Haaretz Poll: Netanyahu Still Rules the Roost as Right's Lead Gets Bigger

Latest Haaretz-Dialog survey predicts Tzipi Livni's new party, Hatnuah, will garner only seven Knesset seats.

Yossi Verter
Yossi Verter
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Yossi Verter
Yossi Verter

It was a sorry start for former Kadima chairwoman, Tzipi Livni, who announced Tuesday that she was joining the race for prime minister. The latest Haaretz-Dialog survey predicts that her new party, Hatnuah, will garner only seven Knesset seats.

She also seems unable to skim votes from the right. What Livni has managed to do is inflict major damage on Yair Lapid's Yesh Atid party, which has lost five seats since the last poll, as has the Labor Party. Seven of Labor and Yesh Atid's lost seats, according to the survey conducted on Tuesday, flowed straight to Livni's party. The rest went to Meretz and other parties. Bottom line: Not only is Livni's bloc not growing stronger since she entered the race, it is on track to win fewer Knesset seats than it has now.

The survey, supervised by Prof. Camil Fuchs of Tel Aviv University's Department of Statistics, shows that the public certainly does not consider Livni an alternative to Netanyahu. Sixty-six percent see Netanyahu as premier material, compared to only 21 percent who say the same about Livni. Eight days before the deadline for parties to submit their final slates, the elections, to be held on January 22, seem a done deal. The name of Livni's new party means "the movement" in Hebrew, but at the moment the only movement Livni is generating - in terms of shifting votes from the opposing bloc - is backwards.

A week after the cease-fire in the south, which angered many Likud voters, and 24 hours after the vote on Likud's slate for the next Knesset, Likud Beiteinu is strong and stable and moving closer to 40 seats. Displeasure with Netanyahu over his decision not to pursue a ground operation in Gaza has dissipated. The resounding kick in the posterior that Likud members gave the three Likud "liberals" - Dan Meridor, Benny Begin and Michael Eitan - and the coloring of the top of the Likud list in deeply right-wing, religious and partisan hues, has not fazed voters.

Meanwhile, regarding the left-center bloc, the survey predicts that the center-left, including 11 seats for the Arab parties, will win only 51 seats to the right-religious bloc's 69. The poll shows that Meretz, headed by Zahava Gal-On, is growing stronger, with a predicted five seats. This may be due to the apparent certain victory for Netanyahu - leftist voters feel liberated from the need to cast their vote tactically, and can follow their hearts and vote for a boutique party.

The same dynamic could be at work on the other side of the map, meaning a possible five or six seats for Rabbi Chaim Amsalem's new Am Shalem party, though it's still early.

Other highlights from the poll: Kadima is off the electoral map, its 28 seats having all been wiped out. Shas, now headed by the triumvirate of spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef and politicos Eli Yishai and Aryeh Deri, is expected to rise above the 11 seats it holds now.

The new extreme right party Otzma Leyisrael, headed by MKs Aryeh Eldad and Michael Ben Ari, is inching closer to the vote threshold needed to get into the Knesset.

A Haaretz poll shows Likud Beiteinu is strong and stable and moving toward 40 seats in the next Knesset.Credit: Haaretz
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, center, casts his vote, followed by his wife Sara, during the Likud party primary elections in Jerusalem, Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2012Credit: AP

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