Polls show Bennett and Shaked’s New Right gaining, Jewish Home waning
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Polls show Bennett and Shaked’s New Right gaining, Jewish Home waning

Surveys predict double act will draw votes away from former right-wing party, but differ wildly on number of seats it will win

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, left, and Education Minister Nafatli Bennett seen announcing the formation of their New Right party, at a press conference in Tel Aviv on December 29, 2018. (Yossi Zeliger/Flash90)
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, left, and Education Minister Nafatli Bennett seen announcing the formation of their New Right party, at a press conference in Tel Aviv on December 29, 2018. (Yossi Zeliger/Flash90)

The New Right, Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked’s new splinter party, would overtake its previous Jewish Home party if elections were held today, polls published Sunday found.

The five wildly divergent surveys — all of which saw the Likud party with a wide lead over its rivals — gave the new Bennett-Shaked alliance anywhere between six and 14 seats.

Bennett and Shaked announced on Saturday that they were leaving the national-religious Jewish Home party, where they held the top two slots, to create a new party that they said would vie for both religious and secular right-wing votes.

At a press conference, the Orthodox Bennett and secular Shaked said they would serve as the co-leaders of the new party.

A poll published by Hadashot TV news on Sunday night gave the fledgling party six seats, while a Channel 10 news survey gave it eight, and a poll by the Kan public broadcaster predicted it would win 14 of the 120 parliamentary seats.

By contrast, the Jewish Home party would receive just four seats, according to Hadashot. In the Kan and Channel 10 surveys, the Jewish Home party did not clear the electoral threshold.

In all three surveys, the Likud remained squarely ahead of its main competitors, the Benny Gantz-led Israel Resilience party and the Yair Lapid-led Yesh Atid (30 for Likud, 14 for Gantz, and 11 for Yesh Atid, according to Channel 10; 28 for the Likud, 14 for Israel Resilience, 12 for Yesh Atid, according to Hadashot; and 27 seats for Likud, 16 for Yesh Atid; 14 for the New Right; and 13 for Israel Resilience, according to Kan).

A poll published earlier on Sunday by the Walla news site predicted that the New Right party would win 10 seats, two more than the number currently held by Jewish Home.

It also found that 42 percent of right-wing voters prefer to see Bennett in the top slot, with 26% backing Shaked. Among the general public, 35% saw Bennett as the most suitable leader, compared to 23% for Shaked.

Bennett was listed as chairman in the party’s registration with the Central Elections Committee. However, on Sunday, the New Right unveiled its logo, which included the names of the two politicians, and put Shaked’s before Bennett’s.

Opinions were divided on whether there was justification for creating the New Right, with roughly one-third of right-wing voters and the same among the general public supporting the move, and a similar ratio opposing it. Around 40% in each group were undecided about the development.

The ruling Likud party, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, would win 28 seats, the Walla poll found, slightly down from the roughly 30 or more predicted in recent surveys.

The report on the poll, by Panel Politics, assessed that much of the New Right’s strength came from Benny Gantz’s Israel Resilience party, which dropped from 14 seats in a previous survey to 11, along with the three-odd seats siphoned from Likud. Gantz announced the formation of Israel Resilience at the end of last week.

The survey, based on persistent reports in recent days, posited that Israel Resilience will merge with a new party announced by former IDF chief and defense minister Moshe Ya’alon.

The opposition Zionist Union, which has been polling badly for months, would drop from 24 to just nine seats, the poll found, while the second large opposition party, Yesh Atid, would garner 15 seats — up from its current 11.

The Walla news survey of 580 respondents, with a margin of error of 4.3%, had Jewish Home, sans Bennett and Shaked, diving from its current eight to just four seats. Most of the other results dovetailed with other recent surveys.

Then Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon, left, seen with then IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz, April 11, 2013. (Ariel Hermoni/Ministry of Defense/FLASH90)

Overall, the creation of New Right will not add to the strength of the right-wing bloc, which would win 62 seats, one down from a previous survey, the Walla poll found.

In addition to Jewish Home, four parties considered right-wing or centrist polled at just four seats, putting them uncomfortably close to the minimum threshold for entry into the Knesset: former defense minister Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu; the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, led by Interior Minister Aryeh Deri; and the newly formed Gesher party, headed by independent MK Orly Levy-Abekasis.

Amid concerns that the no fewer than seven right-wing parties staging Knesset bids would whittle down the right, the government has been preparing to lower the electoral threshold, which is currently at four seats, ahead of April’s elections. However, the move was blocked Sunday by opposition parties, and the proposal was not brought for a Knesset vote, Channel 10 reported.

A second poll, published Sunday by the right-wing Makor Rishon newspaper, gave the New Right even more success, predicting a stunning 14 seats, and bringing Likud down to 25, lower than recent polls.

That poll showed Jewish Home sinking to five seats without Bennett and Shaked.

Most polls before the split showed Likud getting around 30 seats, with Jewish Home in the low teens.

The Makor Rishon poll was conducted by the Direct Polls firm, which surveyed 628 people using “digital methods,” likely meaning text messages and online questionnaires.

The survey found that Gantz’s Israel Resilience party would garner 15 seats, while Yesh Atid would get only 10 and Zionist Union would fall to nine.

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