The distribution of Knesset seats across the political spectrum is showing signs of holding steady, as election campaigns enter the home stretch ahead of the January 22 vote, according to a poll released Wednesdayby the Hebrew news site Walla.
The results, which are largely unchanged from a similar poll conducted by the site last week, showed a Knesset split between a 66-seat right-wing bloc (including the ultra-Orthodox parties) and a 54-seat left-wing bloc (including the Arab parties).
But Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud-Beytenu came in with 34 seats, one less than last week, which would easily make it the largest party, but still much smaller than initial projections when the merger between Netanyahu’s Likud and then-foreign minister Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu was announced in late October.
Many of the voters lost by Netanyahu appear to have migrated to the Jewish Home party and its leader Naftali Bennett, who were projected to garner 15 seats, significantly higher than poll results posted earlier in the election cycle.
Such a result would make Jewish Home the third-largest Knesset faction, after Likud-Beytenu and the Labor Party, and would virtually guarantee a senior ministerial position for Bennett, who has never held elected office, if the party joins a coalition headed by Netanyahu.
Significantly, the report noted that a full 43 percent of respondents who said they would vote for the Jewish Home party did not define their religious lifestyle as Orthodox, a perhaps-surprising indication of the extent of Bennett’s appeal beyond the Religious Zionist community.
The Labor Party came in with 18 seats, a major increase from its current eight, but less than polls earlier in the game that predicted upwards of 20 seats for Shelly Yachimovich and her social democratic-oriented slate.
Shas would receive 11 mandates, up from its current 10, the poll predicted.
Two new center-left parties — Hatnua (The Movement), led by former foreign minister Tzipi Livni, and Yesh Atid, headed by star-journalist-turned-politician Yair Lapid — both came in with 10 seats.
The ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism party would receive six seats, and the left-wing Meretz would garner four, with the the Arab parties receiving 10 seats between them: four for Hadash, four for the United Arab List and two for Balad.
According to the poll, Kadima, which was the largest party after the previous elections in 2009, with 28 seats, would just barely pass the electoral threshold to put two of its candidates in parliament.
Am Shalem, the centrist-oriented breakaway party from the ultra-Orthodox Shas, would not pass the threshold, the survey found. Other recently published polls have predicted that Am Shalem would enter the Knesset, and Kadima would stay out.
The poll was conducted among 500 Israelis, with a margin of error of two Knesset seats.