With five days before the elections, the Zionist Union is pulling 24 Knesset seats in the latest Haaretz poll, compared to 23 seats in the previous one, while Likud has lost two seats since the last survey, getting only 21.
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The Joint List gets 13 seats, which would make it the Knesset’s third-largest party.
If the Zionist Union maintains this momentum over the next few days until the election, the chances of party leader Isaac Herzog forming the next government will be greatly enhanced. It’s no coincidence that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been reiterating during his public appearances that “if the gap in their favor increases, Tzipi [Livni] and Bougie [Herzog] will head the next government.” If Netanyahu looks worried, it’s no act. He has good reason to feel as if his seat is starting to wobble under him.
In addition, Herzog has strengthened his position among voters in terms of his perceived suitability to be prime minister; if some 10 days ago the gap between him and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was 26 percentage points in Netanyahu’s favor, it has narrowed to 14 percentage points. Of those questioned yesterday, 48 percent thought Netanyahu was most suited to the job, while 34 percent favored Herzog.
Over the past few days, Herzog’s public appearances have become more calm, statesmanlike, and most importantly, more mature. In the media arena, at least, he looks as someone who is slowly growing into the job. It should be noted, however, that even if Herzog gets the nod from President Reuven Rivlin to form the next government, actually putting together a coalition will be very difficult. He would have to persuade parties like Meretz and Yisrael Beiteinu to sit together, and convince one or more Haredi parties to cooperate with Yesh Atid’s Yair Lapid.
Compared to the previous Haaretz poll, the center-right bloc has lost four seats, with the Likud losing two, Yisrael Beiteinu losing one and Habayit Hayehudi losing one, while Kahalon’s Kulanu has gained two seats, rising to 11.
Yisrael Beiteinu is now in the danger zone; according to the poll, whose results are based on responses of those who said they were definitely going to vote, Avigdor Lieberman’s party barely crosses the electoral threshold and will get only four seats. This could be tied to Likud’s intense campaign to return to its ranks voters who had previously defected to satellite parties; there are many similarities between Yisrael Beiteinu voters and those of Likud.
By contrast, both Meretz and Yahad have improved their positions, exceeding the electoral threshold by more than before; the poll shows Meretz getting six seats, and Yahad garnering five. Yesh Atid maintains its 12 seats, while Habayit Hayehudi loses a seat and gets 11 seats. It’s possible Habayit Hayehudi has lost voters to Yahad. The poll shows Shas remaining at seven seats, while United Torah Judaism loses one, dropping to six.
The poll was conducted by the Dialog organization under the supervision of Prof. Camil Fuchs of Tel Aviv University. This is the last poll Haaretz is publishing before the election. In this survey the analysis method was changed; as noted, the findings here reflect the responses of voters who said they were sure they were going to vote, while previous polls included the responses of those who weren’t sure. As the election gets closer, the more reliable data relates to those who are certain they will vote.
If one includes the responses of all the respondents, only two significant changes occur; Yisrael Beiteinu gains one seat, to five, and the Zionist Union loses a seat and polls only 23.
It should also be noted that the final polls before the last election did not successfully predict the results for several parties that surged in the last few days of the campaign, foremost among them Yesh Atid, whose 19 seats were not forecast by anyone. It’s possible that for one or two parties, the final results will be significantly different.