If formed, a new centrist “super-party” could receive more votes than Benjamin Netanyahu’s ruling Likud party, according to a poll published by Haaretz on Thursday.
The survey, conducted by Dialog on Tuesday, showed that if former prime minister Ehud Olmert, former Kadima chair Tzipi Livni and popular political newcomer Yair Lapid were to join forces, their party would win 25 seats in the upcoming January 22 election, surpassing the Likud’s 24 projected seats.
The poll showed, however, that the right-wing bloc would maintain a majority in the Knesset, most likely enabling Netanyahu to continue as prime minister.
According to the poll, if no new joint centrist party is established and the current composition of political parties remains as it is, the right-wing bloc would receive 65 seats in the next Knesset opposite the left’s 55 seats.
Were Livni to join up with Labor head Shelly Yachimovich, she would bring two seats over to the left-wing bloc, giving it 57 to the right’s 63.
And were Olmert and Livni to form a “super-party” with Yair Lapid, the left bloc would also have 57 mandates to the 63 for the right, but the centrist party would be the largest, thus possibly giving its leader the first go at forming a coalition. (The president usually chooses the head of the biggest party to try first to form a government, but can ask the head of the party deemed most likely to be able to form a government — as happened in 2009, when Kadima had 28 seats, but the Likud’s Netanyahu with 27 was asked to form a coalition and did so.)
On Wednesday, Olmert and Livni announced that they will work together should they choose to run in the January 22 general elections.
The theoretical centrist “super-party” would have 25 seats, to 24 for Likud and 17 for Labor. Shas, with Aryeh Deri at the helm, would jump to 14 seats in this scenario, the poll showed.
The poll showed that in an election with the parties as they currently stand, the Likud would win 29 seats to 20 for Labor, 11 for both Shas and Yesh Atid and eight mandates for Kadima.
Tzipi Livni joining Labor would garner 24 mandates for the party with 27 for Likud and 10 for Yesh Atid.
Many of these possibilities must remain in the realm of theory for now. Olmert has been weighing a return to politics, but his ability to run for office was cast in doubt on Tuesday when the State Attorney’s Office informed Olmert’s lawyers that it will appeal his acquittal in at least one, and possibly both, of the two substantive corruption cases in which he was acquitted by the Jerusalem District Court in July.
Even if legal issues do not impede the former prime minister, however, it remains unclear under what framework Olmert and Livni would run in the general elections. A return to Kadima seems unlikely, and establishing a new party in time for the elections would present daunting procedural and financing challenges.
In what may be the least likely scenario for the upcoming elections, the Haaretz poll found that if President Shimon Peres were to head a left-centrist bloc,18% of those polled would “definitely” vote for his party, and 19% “might” vote for the ticket. If even half of those who “might” vote a Peres-led party actually did cast their vote for Peres, his party could garner 32 seats, more than any party in the current government.
The sudden retirement of popular Likud MK Moshe Kahlon will only lose one seat for his party, according to a Globes poll. In a survey conducted for Globes by the Rafi Smith group on Wednesday, if elections were to be held today, Likud would win 27 seats, as opposed to the 28 projected before Communications Minister Kahlon’s surprise announcement that he was quitting politics.
The Globes poll also found that the Labor party would win 18 seats, and Lapid’s Yesh Atid party would win 14. A Kadima party with Shaul Mofaz as its leader would plummet to only three seats according to the poll, and Yisrael Beytenu would win 15.
The religious Shas party was projected at 11 seats by Globes before the announced return of former head Deri, and 13 seats with him back at the helm. The two seats added by Deri came at the expense of the Likud, thus dropping its total to 25 seats.