Poll Finds Yachimovich to Be Most Popular Labor Figure

The split left Labor with eight MKs, but if led by Shelly Yachimovich, the party would win 10 seats in the next election, poll shows.

Labor would win more seats with MK Shelly Yachimovich at its head than it would if led by any of the other three likely candidates for leadership, a new Haaretz-Dialog poll shows.

The poll was conducted on Tuesday, a day after former party chairman Ehud Barak and four other Labor Knesset members split off to form a new faction.

The split left Labor with eight MKs. But if led by Yachimovich, the party would win 10 seats in the next election, the poll showed.

The next best showing was produced by former party chairman Amram Mitzna, who is not currently in the Knesset. The poll showed that Labor under his leadership would win nine seats.

Labor MK Shelly Yachimovich - Daniel Bar-On
Daniel Bar-On.

Neither Mitzna nor Yachimovich has actually announced his or her candidacy, but both have said they are considering a run.

Of the two Labor MKs who have declared themselves candidates, Isaac Herzog would bring the party eight seats and Avishay Braverman a mere five. The latter figure is precisely what the poll showed Labor winning on a generic ballot with no specified leader - meaning Braverman's leadership would improve the party's showing not at all.

The preference for Yachimovich - a relatively new MK who, unlike Herzog and Braverman, has never been a minister - seems to show that Labor voters would like their party to adopt a clear social-democratic agenda. As an MK, Yachimovich has dealt exclusively with economic and social issues, leaving diplomatic issues like the peace process to her colleagues.

The results also show that far from dealing Labor a death blow, the split appears to have given the party a new lease on life.

Now, Yachimovich has two choices: either run for Labor's leadership or leave the party to form a new social-democratic party. Before Barak's departure, she had been leaning toward the latter option. But the split may cause her decide to stay and try to capture Labor's leadership.

The full results of the poll, which was conducted under the supervision of Prof. Camil Fuchs of Tel Aviv University, will be published in Friday's Week's End supplement.