Poll: PM's Reshuffle Gained Stability, Not Popular Support

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert managed to stabilize his coalition by including Yisrael Beiteinu, but he has been less successful in regaining popular support since the end of the Lebanon War. His situation continues to be bad, and his climb in the polls is likely to be long and slow.

His only consolation is that Defense Minister Amir Peretz's situation is even worse.

In reality, the only thing in Olmert's favor is that there are no elections on the horizon - because if there were, it does not appear that either he or his party, Kadima, would be in a position to lead the next government.

A poll conducted by Haaretz and Dialog under the guidance of Professor Camille Fuchs earlier this week found that Olmert's approval rating is only 20 percent, while 70 percent of respondents said that they were dissatisfied with his leadership.

Despite reservations regarding the conduct of State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss, when the public was asked to choose between Olmert and the comptroller, the answer was unequivocal: They chose Lindenstrauss. Only 12 percent of the public believes that the comptroller is carrying out a witch hunt against Olmert, as the prime minister's aides have claimed, while 67 percent believe that Lindenstrauss is doing his job.

The public also does not believe Olmert's claims of innocence in the cases of alleged misconduct that Lindenstrauss is investigating: Only 21 percent believe Olmert, while 66 percent do not.

The expansion of the coalition by bringing in Yisrael Beiteinu enjoyed the support of 39 percent of respondents, while 35 percent said that Avigdor Lieberman's inclusion makes the government worse.

The other politicians featured regularly in the Haaretz-Dialog polls have not significantly altered their standing in the public's eyes.

Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Tzipi Livni has maintained her position as the most popular politician, with a 51 percent approval rating. Opposition leader MK Benjamin Netanyahu has a 45 percent approval rating, compared to 43 percent who are dissatisfied with him, despite the problems that some of his recent speeches and interviews have caused him.

The number of Knesset seats that Netanyahu's Likud Party would receive if elections were held today has also risen, to 28. Three of those seats came from Yisrael Beiteinu, which dropped from 18 in the last poll to 15 this week.

Clearly, many Lieberman voters are dissatisfied with the decision to join Olmert's coalition. But he should be the last person to be surprised by this: In interviews on the eve of joining the government, Lieberman said that his party was likely to lose a number of seat.

With regard to other parties, Labor has lost one seat since the last poll, dropping to 14, while Kadima has risen by one, to 17. The Pensioners Party has almost evaporated, receiving just about the minimum number of votes required to pass the electoral threshold, which translates into two seats.

But the politician at the bottom of the ratings chart was Defense Minister Amir Peretz, with 82 percent of those polled disapproving of his performance. Only 14 percent supported Peretz. Labor also suffers from a 68 percent disapproval rate.

Were elections held today for Labor's leadership, with Peretz running against MK Ophir Pines-Paz, who resigned his ministerial post to protest Lieberman's inclusion in the coalition, Pines would win with 45 percent of the vote.