Recent Poll Success Has Made Likud Irresistible to Donors

The top three fund-raisers among Knesset members ahead of their respective party primaries are all from the Likud. The word in the Knesset is that businessmen are good at picking a winning horse - and that's where they're putting their money, with the hope that having friends in high places can help them after the elections.

In pole position in the fund-raising stakes is MK Limor Livnat, who has brought in NIS 252,600 from donors. Not far behind is MK Gideon Saar, with NIS 238,122. In third place is MK Gilad Erdan, who has managed to raise NIS 221,197 so far. Erdan began raising money for his primary bid back in May 2007.

Other Likud MKs who could give the top three a run for their money are Yuli Edelstein (NIS 127,004), Yuval Steinitz (NIS 111,378) and Moshe Kahlon (NIS 91,925).

In the last election Likud MKs complained that businessmen preferring to give to Labor. In recent weeks, however, and despite the losses caused by the global economic crisis, Likud MKs have managed to raise considerably more than their Labor and Kadima colleagues.

While donors are clearly putting their money where their ideology as well as their personal trust in specific MKs lie, it must be assumed that they are not ignoring the opinion polls. If they are borne out and their favorite MK gets a cabinet posting or an influential legislative position, the donors will have guaranteed themselves access to a sympathetic ear in a well-placed position.

Sources in the Knesset say the situation is likely to become more acute after Likud's primary on December 8, after which potential donors will know exactly where their favorite candidates are positioned on the party list and whether they are likely to land a top job after the general elections.

Topping Labor's highrollers' list according to the list filed with the State Comptroller's Office. are MK Avishay Braverman (NIS 166,000), Social Affairs Minister Isaac Herzog (NIS 131,483), MK Nadia Hilou (NIS 82,883), MK Orit Noked (NIS 54,537), MK Shelly Yachimovich (NIS 43,104) and Daniel Ben Simon (39,500).