Likud With MK Feiglin at Helm Would Get 18 Knesset Seats, Internal Poll Says

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MK Moshe Feiglin near the Temple Mount compound. November 2, 2014.Credit: AFP

An internal Likud poll projects that if right-wing Likud Knesset Member Moshe Feiglin were to win the party’s leadership contest and lead the party in the upcoming Knesset election, Likud would get 18 seats in the 120-seat legislature, a showing identical to what the party has today, under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

The survey, which was conducted by the Ma'agar Mochot polling agency among a representative sample of 501 Jewish Israelis, was commissioned by party activists to gauge the prospects of Netanyahu’s rivals as heads of the party in the upcoming Knesset election. At this point Feiglin, who is on the right of the Likud spectrum, and Likud central committee chairman Danny Danon are the only two declared challengers to Netanyahu for the post of party leader.

Likud is set to choose a leader on January 6, although Netanyahu is said to be considering moving up the vote. The general election has tentatively been scheduled for March 17.

More revealing than what the polling results say about Feiglin’s prospects, the poll data lay bare Netanyahu’s problematic standing with the public at large and the understanding among Likud party stalwarts that it’s possible that the current prime minister is not their party’s only option on the path to electoral

“Today Likudniks understand that anyone can garner the seats that Bibi does for the party,” one party member said in reaction to the polling results, referring to Netanyahu by his nickname. “According to the [survey] results, Netanyahu’s ceiling could turn into Feiglin’s floor,” another Likud activist said in connection to the possible support for the two in the election. “From this point [Feiglin] could collect additional Knesset seats.”

The survey indicates that if Feiglin were to lead the party, some traditional Likud voters would drift to other parties while Likud would garner its support from more right-wing and religious voters. Feiglin would draw voters from the Habayit Hayehudi and Yisrael Beiteinu parties, while the voters that Likud would lose would go primarily to Yisrael Beiteinu, Yesh Atid and a party expected to be established by former Likud MK Moshe Kahlon.

"The results of the poll aren't surprising," Feiglin said. "But they certainly highlight the most important question in these elections: Who can bring back the votes that have migrated to Habayit Hayehudi and Yisrael Beiteinu.

"My leadership and the path that I represent" will draw voters back to Likud, he said.

Danny Danon fares almost as well as Feiglin in the poll. However, the survey did not examine the prospects of former interior minister Gideon Sa’ar, who has been mulling a run at the party’s top leadership spot but is not yet a declared candidate.

There are currently 85,400 people on the Likud membership rolls entitled to vote for party leader. It is thought that fewer than half will actually turn out to vote in the Likud leadership contest. The thinking among the candidates’ campaigns is that the choice of party leader will be decided based on the candidate who manages to get 21,000 party members to turn out and vote for him.

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