ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 139

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Elections 2015

With Hatnua on board, Labor projected to be largest party

A day after center-left merger, poll finds 36% of public wants Netanyahu to govern, versus 33% who prefer Livni and Herzog

Ilan Ben Zion is an AFP reporter and a former news editor at The Times of Israel.

Labor leader Isaac Herzog and Hatnua leader Tzipi Livni announce the merger of their parties at a press conference in Tel Aviv on December 10, 2014. They said they would rotate the prime ministership if they win elections next March. (Photo credit: FLASH90)
Labor leader Isaac Herzog and Hatnua leader Tzipi Livni announce the merger of their parties at a press conference in Tel Aviv on December 10, 2014. They said they would rotate the prime ministership if they win elections next March. (Photo credit: FLASH90)

The joint Labor-Hatnua party list is projected to become the largest party in the Knesset, earning 20 percent of the vote, according to a Channel 2 poll published Thursday.

The poll asked 500 respondents who they would vote for in the March 2015 elections now that Hatnua party leader Tzipi Livni and Labor Party leader Isaac Herzog have joined forces. The survey found that the Labor-Hatnua joint list would win 24 seats, putting it ahead of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party by a single seat.

The right-wing Jewish Home party would come in next with 15 seats, followed by former Likud minister Moshe Kahlon’s Kulanu party with nine.

The ultra-Orthodox Shas and United Torah Judaism parties would get nine and eight seats, respectively. Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu party and Yesh Atid would each win eight seats. Meretz was projected to get five and the Arab parties 11.

The once-ruling Kadima party, which currently has two seats in the Knesset, would not clear the electoral threshold.

Should the Likud and Jewish Home parties join forces as a single list, the union would win 33 seats, fewer than the 38 combined seats that the poll projected they would get running independently.

Asked who they would rather have as prime minister, 36% of respondents answered Netanyahu, while Herzog and Livni, who have agreed to split the four-year term should they form a government, trailed by three points. The remaining 31% of respondents either did not know who they preferred or refused to answer.

A poll published Tuesday by Channel 10, before the Labor-Hatnua merger was announced, found that a joint list would win 22 seats. The same poll found that 22% of respondents said Herzog was their preferred prime minister, with Netanyahu just one point ahead at 23%. Previous polls showed Netanyahu head and shoulders above potential prime ministerial rivals.

In light of the Channel 2 poll’s findings, Netanyahu’s Likud party could form a right-wing and ultra-Orthodox government with 72 seats, including the Jewish Home, Kulanu, Yisrael Beytenu, Shas and United Torah Judaism parties. At the same time, Labor-Hatnua had fewer options and would only be able to form a stable center-left coalition with a Knesset majority by partnering with disparate partners Yisrael Beytenu, Kulanu, Shas, United Torah Judaism, and either Meretz or Yesh Atid, Channel 2’s political analyst said.

The poll, conducted for Channel 2 by the Midgam company, had a margin of error of 4.5%.

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