Election survey shows small parties polling at threshold as bigger parties slide

Six parties would win four seats each in Knesset and another five would score ten or less, new poll indicates; Blue and White still ahead, but Likud seen likely to form coalition

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Ballot boxes at the Central Elections Committee logistics center in Shoham, March 2019.
Ballot boxes at the Central Elections Committee logistics center in Shoham, March 2019.

Several small parties were predicted to scrape past the threshold for entry into the Knesset and each win four seats in parliament as the two leading parties contesting coming elections appeared to lose votes, according to a survey published by Channel 12 TV on Thursday night.

The poll indicates that there could be as many as 13 parties in the Knesset after April 9 elections, compared to the nine in the current parliament. There are 43 parties competing in the elections.

If elections were held today, Kulanu, the New Right, Meretz, Yisrael Beytenu, Zehut, and Arab Israeli party Ra’am-Balad, would each win four seats in parliament, the poll predicted. The parties represent a broad spectrum of Israeli parties from left to right.

Previous polls have shown those parties bobbing around the threshold, either failing to win the 3.25% of the vote needed for the minimum four seats, or rising as high as five seats. Gesher, a centrist party, was predicted to fall short of entering parliament with 2.3% of the vote.

Blue and White, led by ex-army chief Benny Gantz and MK Yair Lapid would win 31 seats, five less than it was predicated to win in a previous survey by the same TV channel last week.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ruling Likud party would win 28 seats, the survey found, two fewer than in the previous poll.

The next largest party would be Labor with 10 seats, followed by the Arab party Hadash-Ta’al, the ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism party, and the Union of Right-wing Parties, all with seven seats each. Shas would win six seats.

Although Blue and White led the poll, the results showed that Likud together with its likely right-wing allies and ultra-Orthodox parties would still be able to form a majority bloc of 64 seats out of the 120 total in the Knesset, making Netanyahu the most likely candidate to be the next prime minister.

The poll was carried out over the previous two days and sampled 510 adults across the population.

Respondents were also asked who is more suitable to be prime minister, Netanyahu or Gantz. With 40%, Netanyahu was favorite over Gantz, who scored 31%. Nearly a fifth of respondents, 18%, said they don’t have a preference, while 11% said they don’t know who they prefer for prime minister.

One of the parties in the four-seat group, Zehut, has made legalizing soft drugs such cannabis a central plank of its campaign platform.

The survey found that 42% are in favor of legalization, 38% are against, and 20% were undecided.

Zehut’s popularity has brought the issue of decriminalizing cannabis into the election spotlight.

Netanyahu on Monday said he would examine the possibility of legalizing cannabis, in an apparent reaction Zehut’s surge in polls.

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