Nine percent of the Israeli voting public would reevaluate their voting patterns due to a Likud shift to the right, a new poll conducted on the eve of the ruling party’s primary elections found. Still, the Channel 10/Maagar Mochot poll, which was released Tuesday morning, also found the Likud maintaining its lead over the left — and even roundly defeating a prospective party merging Shelly Yachimovich’s Labor and a list headed by former Kadima leader Tzipi Livni.
Sixty-nine percent of respondents to the poll said they would not change their vote if the Likud took a shift to the right, while 22% said they didn’t know.
Likud’s rightward move was underlined by the selection of ultra-nationalist Moshe Feiglin to the party’s 15th spot ahead of the January 22 elections. The ascent of other hardliners like Danny Danon and Yariv Levin — coupled with the political freeze-out of moderates Dan Meridor, Benny Begin, Michael Eitan, and Avi Dichter — had commentators calling the slate “the most right-wing Likud list possible,” and rivals expressing fear at where the party would take the country if, as predicted, it received the mandate to form the next government.
According to the poll, the joint Likud-Yisrael Beytenu list will win 37 seats, followed by Labor with 20. The ultra-Orthodox Shas party would receive 14; the far-right Jewish Home-National Union list nine; Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid five, a far cry from other recent polls that predicted some 10 seats for the former TV anchorman; and the far-left Meretz three. Am Shalem would win four seats, which would constitute a surprise showing for the Shas offshoot. Kadima, the current Knesset’s largest party, would fail to pass the minimum threshold, leaving its members out of the parliament, the poll predicted.
The poll found that if former foreign minister and Kadima leader Tzipi Livni were to stand at the head of a new party, a move she was expected to announce on Tuesday, she would win nine Knesset seats. The poll also found that if Livni were to take up Labor chairwoman Shelly Yachimovich’s offer to join her party, Labor would rise from 20 to 25 seats, mostly at the expense of Yesh Atid.
Professor Yitzhak Katz, who oversaw the Channel 10 survey, said that despite the drama drummed up by the media over recent political developments, the public was for the most part apathetic to the goings on. Katz said that the right-wing bloc continued to dominate the political map to the tune of 70 Knesset seats, as opposed to the left’s 50.
The poll also addressed the second political bombshell of the day, Ehud Barak’s surprise announcement that he would not be running for a seat in the next Knesset, asking respondents whether they would like to see the defense minister return to the post in a future government. The poll found that 44% of voters would and 39% wouldn’t, while 17% said they were indifferent.
A similar poll conducted by Channel 2 found that 55% of respondents didn’t want Barak back in the defense establishment’s top post, as opposed to 31% who did.