Haaretz Poll: 40% Want Elections, 68% Say Olmert Should Resign

23% of respondents want Olmert to stay in office to 'fix defects'; 26% say Netanyahu should replace Olmert; 85% say Peretz should resign.

A poll taken Tuesday, 24 hours after the release of the Winograd report, shows that 40 percent of those asked favor elections, especially on the right wing.

The poll found that between 10 and 17 percent of respondents prefer that the current Knesset - only 14 months old - continue in office, and that the government be changed and headed by Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu, Vice Premier Shimon Peres or Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni. Nine percent support the existing government in the poll, conducted by Haaretz-Dialog and directed by Professor Camil Fuchs of Tel Aviv University's statistics department.

The results concerning Prime Minister Ehud Olmert are particularly interesting: Sixty-eight percent want him to resign, an almost identical percentage that appeared in previous polls on this question. In this sense, the major shock of the Winograd report has not left its mark on the people.

Those who believed six months ago that Olmert should resign still think so. In the current poll, 23 percent want him to stay to "fix the defects."

Regarding Defense Minister Amir Peretz, 85 percent want him to resign and only 9 percent want him to remain in office. Peretz's situation is desperate among voters in his own Labor Party as well: 81 percent want him out. In contrast, Olmert has a relatively low percentage of opponents in his Kadima Party - 58 percent want him to resign.

Knesset seats

In the regular poll Haaretz-Dialog conducts every two months on the number of seats each party would receive if elections were held now, Kadima actually gained two seats over the 12 the previous poll gave it. Likud continues to lead, with 30 seats, and Labor has 21, with no real change for the rest of the parties.

Because the feeling in the Knesset is that Olmert will not hold his present post for long, the poll sought to check who the public believes is the most worthy candidate to replace him. On a scale of 1 to 10, those polled placed Netanyahu in the lead with 5.27, although he is the only right-wing leader presented, while respondents on the left had four candidates to choose from.

Tzipi Livni is second at 5.03, Peres has a rating of 4.91, Labor's Ami Ayalon 4.29, and Labor's Ehud Barak 3.91. However, Barak cannot become prime minister during the current Knesset's term because he is not an MK.

Respondents were also asked to choose a candidate they would like to see as prime minister. Here too, Netanyahu led with 26 percent, followed by Peres at 11 percent, Livni at 10 percent and Barak and Olmert at 6 percent each. Ayalon trailed with 5 percent.

Another interesting item: Yisrael Beiteinu voters divided their preference among Netanyahu, who took the lead, as well as Avigdor Lieberman and Arcadi Gaydamak, who received 3-percent support. The candidate by the name of "other" took in 18 percent.

When asked whom they preferred as defense minister, support for Ayalon was greater than for Barak - 50 percent to 34 percent. Among Labor voters, support for the two was almost equally divided.