Gantz’s National Unity party remains strong in new polls, as Likud plunges

Centrist party led by former defense minister soars to 29 seats in surveys; Netanyahu’s ruling party would get 24, with governing coalition falling from 64 seats to 52

File: Campaign billboard for Benny Gantz's Blue and White party in Tel Aviv, on March 14, 2021. The billboard reads, "It's Benny [Gantz] in the Knesset -- or Bibi [Netanyahu] forever." (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
File: Campaign billboard for Benny Gantz's Blue and White party in Tel Aviv, on March 14, 2021. The billboard reads, "It's Benny [Gantz] in the Knesset -- or Bibi [Netanyahu] forever." (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Political polls are continuing to show a significant drop in support for the ruling coalition with multiple surveys indicating that if national elections were held today, Likud would not be able to form a government with its far-right and ultra-Orthodox partners.

According to the latest polls on Channel 12 and Channel 13 on Sunday, if elections were held today, the coalition’s Knesset seats would amount to 52, down from its current 64 seats. The opposition bloc parties would garner 63 seats for a slim majority, according to the surveys. The non-aligned Hadash-Ta’al would hold the remaining five seats in the 120-seat house

The National Unity party headed by Benny Gantz, a key member of the opposition, would come out the strongest with an estimated 29 seats, according to both polls, amid a sustained surge in support for the former defense minister and military chief.

Gantz has sought to set a unifying tone amid societal upheaval caused by the government’s highly controversial effort to overhaul and significantly curtail the justice system. Though he and his party are firmly opposed to the current plan, they have also acknowledged a need for reform and are broadly seen as more open to compromise than other opposition parties.

The surveys indicated that the Likud party headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would drop to 24 seats, a significant drop from the 32 seats it currently holds in the Knesset.

Asked whether Netanyahu or Gantz was more suitable to be prime minister, 41% of respondents to the Channel 12 poll chose Gantz, while 31% preferred the current prime minister. Some 26% said Opposition Leader Yair Lapid, chairman of the Yesh Atid party, was most suitable.

In the latest polls, if elections were held today, Yesh Atid would fall to 19 seats according to the Channel 13 survey and 18 seats in the Channel 12 poll, down from its current crop of 24 seats, making the centrist party the third largest in the Knesset.

The combined far-right slate of Religious Zionism-Otzma Yehudit slate would drop from 14 to 11 seats, both polls predicted.

Ultra-Orthodox party Shas, a longtime Netanyahu backer, would receive 10 seats, down one from its current 11, and United Torah Judaism would remain steady with 7 seats, according to the polls.

The left-wing Meretz would return to the Knesset with 4 seats according to the Channel 13 poll, and 5 seats according to Channel 12, after dropping below the electoral threshold last time, while Ra’am and Hadash-Ta’al would each get 5 seats. Yisrael Beytenu, headed by Avigdor Liberman, appeared to be gaining slightly from previous polls, with both current surveys showing 6 seats for the right-wing, secularist party.

Labor, led by Merav Michaeli, and Palestinian nationalist party Balad would not pass the electoral threshold, Channel 12 and Channel 13 found.

Respondents of the Channel 12 poll were also asked to assess the current coalition’s performance on security economic issues, with a majority giving the government a “bad” grade in both departments. Over 60% of respondents gave the coalition a “bad” grade on security and just 29% give it a “good” mark. On the economic front, 71% of respondents said the government was performing badly and 23% were satisfied. The rest did not know.

Asked specifically about Netanyahu’s performance, 61% gave him a “bad” grade and 33% said his leadership was “good.” The remaining 6% did not know. Most respondents were also dissatisfied with National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir, head of the far-right Otzma Yehudit faction, and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, head of Religious Zionism.

On the divisive and temporarily suspended plans to overhaul the judiciary — pushed by all parties in the coalition — 34% of Channel 12 respondents said the legislative package to restrict the powers of the High Court of Justice and bring almost all judicial appointments under government control should move ahead only if there is broad consensus, while 26% want to see the legislation dropped completely. Only 21% wanted the legislation to move forward in its existing form, without broad agreement.

Netanyahu suspended the legislative push in late March, amid fierce pushback, to allow for compromise talks under the aegis of President Isaac Herzog.

The Channel 12 survey was carried out by Midgam and sampled 512 respondents, with a margin of error of 4.4%. The Channel 13 poll surveyed over 700 respondents and had a 3.7% margin of error.

Opinion polls are not necessarily reliable but they do often affect public opinion and drive decision-making among parties and politicians.

No elections are set for anytime soon, but the polls could become relevant if the current hard-right coalition — where significant cracks have been evident from time to time — were to fall.

Most Popular
read more: