Lapid on par with Netanyahu

Yair Lapid's Yesh Atid party has gained at the expense of Labor, Hatenua and Kadima in the latest "Globes"-Smith poll.

Yesh Atid and the Likud-Beytenu are going head-to-head. The first survey since the government was established found that, in the three months since the elections, the two parties would be tied with the number of Knesset seats, 30 each, if elections were held now. The Smith Institute opinion poll for "Globes" looks at the future battle for the premiership, and finds that it will not be between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and head of the opposition Labor Party chairwoman MK Shelly Yachimovich. Labor is out; Yesh Atid is in. The arena is within the coalition and the government, between Netanyahu and his finance minister, Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid.

Lapid is without question the new kid on the block, most popular kid in the class, the hotshot of the day, the nation's darling. However, the latest poll shows that the public is pleased by Lapid, but not because of his economic wisdom. On the contrary. There is barely any economic dialogue at the moment; it's been replaced by the brilliant spin of haredi (ultra-orthodox) bashing. The public, which is still hearing the echoes of Lapid's speech in the Knesset against the haredim, is not interested in the deficit or the budget hole. It wants someone to stick it to the haredim. While Lapid's remarks still reverberate, the results are resounding. He has not yet notched up any successes at the Ministry of Finance, but what is certain is that he knows how to give speeches.

Politics pays for Lapid. Voters in the center of the political map and in the center of geographical map see him as their voice. But when the survey examines satisfaction with Lapid as finance minister, then a different picture emerges: 37% of the public is dissatisfied with his performance as finance minister, compared with 35% who are satisfied. The results are surprising. They are not bad, but stronger support could have been expected. A month after he took up the post, Lapid should have been at his peak. He got the job after brilliant and determined coalition negotiations, one of the best this country has seen in years. Logic says that he should only rise, but he is sliding. On the other hand, considering the difficult economic circumstances, which force the finance minister to make difficult and unpopular decisions, these poll numbers are reasonable.

Like the political establishment, a third of the public does not yet know how to view the new finance minister. Lapid has not yet decided if he wants to be the nation's darling or weak and pressured, open to blackmail. 28% of the public still has no opinion, and is unable to assess or judge his conduct to date. For them, it is premature to give him a grade. This is understandable. He has not yet made any operative decisions, and the undecided public is waiting to see what will happen. It will be interesting to ask this question in August, after the state budget is passed. Will Lapid the amateur boxer win in a knockout, and prove that he is the man of steel? Or will it turn out that he has also learned gymnastics and that flip-flopping is not a dirty word in his vocabulary? The picture should clarify in three months.

Hatenua vanishes, Labor weakens

The disappearance of Minister of Justice Tzipi Livni's Hatenua (the Movement) brings home the fact that she cut a good deal with Netanyahu: two cabinet posts and the head of the ministerial committee for legislation for a party that does not actually exist. She is a great businesswoman who made the best deal in town.

The Globes-Smith poll also shows that the Labor Party is not working. After its disappointing results in the elections, the party is shedding Knesset seats and disappearing from the economic debate. Yachimovich should be on the barricades, leading a strong and vociferous opposition against the austerity measures, but she has disappeared from the public debate. Gone and vanished. Only in Israel does the opposition collapse instead of the government. The latest poll shows the opposition sinking into the abyss while the coalition stays afloat.

Likud-Beytenu is stunned by the Globes-Smith poll. The mood is funereal, and the internal talk is about collapse. But in fact the poll contradicts this thesis. The party's hardcore support has not changed, despite the talk in the media, and there is no doubt that the recent security incidents are reviving the party. The lethal stabbing in the West Bank, the situation in Syria, the dribble of missiles from Gaza, and signs of an impending intifada, have put the party back on the map.

Haredim are reduced to observers

In the previous government, United Torah Judaism's leaders Yakov Litzman and Moshe Gafni were on top of the world, holding the Ministry of Health and the Knesset Finance Committee, while Shas held the Ministry of Housing and Construction and Ministry of Interior. The two MKs believed that they would keep their posts in the new government of which they would be a part. They are not and they did not. Litzman is only a member in the Finance Committee and Gafni, who is not, comes to every meeting to kibbitz from the sidelines, while new Finance Committee chairman MK Nissan Slomiansky (Habayit Hayehudi) can only hope that they will settle their internal bickering.

The number of Knesset seats each party would win in the latest Globes-Smith poll and the current number of seats held: Likud-Beytenu 30 (31); Yesh Atid 30 (19); Habayit Hayehudi 13 (12); Labor 12 (15); Shas 10 (11); United Torah Judaism 7 (7); Meretz 7 (6); Hadash 4 (4); Raam Taal 4 (4); Balad 3 (3); Hatenua 0 (6); Kadima 0 (2).

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - - on May 2, 2013

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2013

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