Kadima, Likud Up, Labor Party Down

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's Kadima Party and the Likud are both becoming more popular, but the Labor Party is weakening, according to a Haaretz-Dialog poll conducted yesterday and the day before.

The poll, under the supervision of Prof. Camil Fuchs, shows that Kadima would win 39 seats if the elections were held now, an increase of two seats compared to last week's poll. Since its founding, Kadima has consistently gone up in the polls.

The Likud, which will be choosing its party chairman in about 10 days, got three more seats in the current poll than it did in the last one, going up from nine seats to 12.

By contrast, Amir Peretz's Labor Party has weakened significantly, possibly as a result of Monday's terror attack in Netanya. Since Peretz was elected as Labor chairman nearly a month ago, the party has received 26 seats in the polls, but lost four seats in the last week. Winning 22 seats would give Labor only one more seat than it has in the Knesset now.

These findings reflect the assessment that was widespread in all the parties immediately after the attack, that an escalation of the security situation would serve Likud and Kadima and harm Labor.

Meanwhile, 38 percent of respondents said economic-social issues top the list of topics that would most influence them if the elections were to take place now. Twenty-seven percent cited security-political issues, and 21 percent gave preference to corruption in the public sector.

It appears that Kadima's additional seats came at the expense of Labor, while Likud's additional seats apparently came from Shas voters and supporters of Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beiteinu faction.

The Peretz camp predicted Monday that the terror attack would erode the number of Labor seats. Peretz supporters are concerned that this weakening will "bring the mice out of their holes," as one said, and make Peretz's opponents in the party more vocal.

If the trend in the polls does not reverse itself in the next few days, Peretz supporters said, the Labor chair will have to reorganize his campaign and the messages he intends to convey. "Something isn't working here," a senior Labor official who is not one of Peretz's associates said last night. "We are gradually deteriorating, the euphoria is over, all our voters are with Sharon, and Peretz simply does not look like the person most suitable to be prime minister."

Labor currently has 21 seats and Meretz-Yahad has six, while the polls give Labor 22 seats and Meretz-Yahad five. The poll does not reflect significant changes for the other parties.