Former Minister of Communications Moshe Kahlon, who led the reform in mobile prices, would win 13 Knesset seats if elections were held now, if he headed an independent list, according to the latest "Globes"-Smith Institute poll at the end of March. He has the support of disappointed Minister of Finance Yair Lapid voters, taking three seats from Yesh Atid, and he takes two seats each from Minister of the Economy Naftali Bennett's Habayit Hayehudi and the Labor Party. He would also wipe out Minister of Justice Tzipi Livni's Hatnua, taking three seats, and he would even take a seat from Meretz.
Shas should also be worried: he would take three seats, pushing it down to single digits for the for the first time in its 20-year history.
Kahlon is a right-winger who rebelled against Ariel Sharon and opposed the disengagement from Gaza, but he wins considerable support from the center and left.
A Kahlon party would not affect the Likud, where party loyalty is apparently stronger. The Likud-Beitenu list would win 36 Knesset seats, even with Kahlon in play. He is perceived as a leftist on social issues. He would have to think hard whom to put on his party list and what its platform should be if he wants to attract voters from his former party. Political sources believe that if he could present an attractive list, Likud branch leaders and local councillors would begin to switch, and the gap with the Likud would narrow.
The poll shows, however, that the Likud alone, with Kahlon in play, would win 26 Knesset seats and that Minister of Foreign Affairs Avigdor Liberman's Yisrael Beitenu would win 10 seats.
Kahlon's recommendation to the president on the composition of the next government could change the political map. The "Globes" poll shows that he is the tipping of the scales that could put Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the haredi (ultra-orthodox) parties in the opposition facing a coalition of 61 MKs. This is Netanyahu's nightmare: a coalition of ex-Likudiniks Kahlon, Liberman, and Bennett teaming up with Labor Party chairman Isaac Herzog and Lapid, with the support of Meretz. In such a coalition, Herzog could be prime minister with a three-way rotation.
In theory, such a coalition is possible, but looking at the current ruling party, with 31 Knesset seats, which can barely function without crises, it is hard to imagine a coalition led by a party with 15 Knesset seats.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on March 27, 2014
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