The Likud party is edging ahead in early polls in advance of Israel’s second general election within five months, which will take place on September 17. The new Knesset voted elected on April 9 voted to dissolve itself immediately last week, after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s failed to form a government within the time allotted.
An average of thee polls, conducted last week on behalf of Channel 13 News, Kan - Israel Broadcasting Corporation, and Hebrew daily Ma’ariv, gives the following distribution of seats:
Likud - 36 (35)
Blue and White - 33 (34)
Yisrael Beiteinu - 9 (6)
United Torah Judaism - 8 (8)
Shas - 7 (8)
Hadash-Ta’al - 6 (6)
United Right - 6 (5)
Meretz - 6 (4)
Labor - 4 (6)
Ra’am-Balad - 4 (4)
New Right - 4 (0)
(Numbers in parentheses are seats in the outgoing Knesset. In the averaging process, the total is not the actual total of 120 seats in the Knesset.)
According to these polls, Yisrael Beiteinu becomes the third largest party, with nine seats. The party’s improved showing, up from six seats in the outgoing Knesset, indicates that the uncompromising stance taken by its leader Avigdor Liberman against the religious parties over conscription of yeshiva students, which prevented Netanyahu from forming a coalition and precipitated the new election, is paying off electorally. It means that, assuming he is invited by the president to form a government after the next election, Netanyahu’s task will be no easier unless he invites Blue and White to join it.
Moshe Kahlon’s Kulanu party, which won four seats in the outgoing Knesset, is in the process of merging with Likud, which must partly account for Likud's gain.
The poll shows most of the smaller parties, including the haredi (ultra-Orthodox Jewish) and Arab parties maintaining their strength. Two of the polls show Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked’s New Right party mustering enough votes to pass the minimum threshold and win at least four Knesset eats, but the third poll had the party missing out as it did in the last election.
The worst news in these polls is for Labor, which they show continuing its decline and on the verge of extinction, after it won just six seats in the last election.
Some polls, including for Kan, are carried out by Direct Plus, which is owned by former Ministry of Communications director-general Shlomo Filber, the state’s witness in Case 4000, the bribery case against Benjamin Netanyahu, former Bezeq owner Shaul Elovitch, and others. Filber managed the Likud election campaign in 2015. In February, “Globes” reported Tal Schneider revealed that Filber’s polling method was based on SMS, and that his company advised the New Right party. In a statement, Kan said is response: “When we commission surveys from Direct Plus, our contact is with the company’s research director, Natalie Feldman, only. She is a veteran professional in this field. The company’s polling method is innovative, and is chosen in accordance with our professional judgment.”
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on June 2, 2019
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