Likud would sweep elections, new Knesset poll says

The nationalist bloc would retain its majority, while Kadima is expected to lose half its current parliment seats

Raphael Ahren is the diplomatic correspondent at The Times of Israel.

The Likud would become by far the most powerful party in the Knesset if elections were held now, receiving more than twice as many mandates as second-placed Yisrael Beitenu and Labor would get, a new poll found.

Israel’s political landscape will have dramatically changed since the last elections in 2009, yet the nationalist camp forming the current government would retain its majority in the new Knesset, the survey asserts. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this week denied rumors that he planned to advance elections, which are are scheduled for November 2013.

According to the poll – published Thursday by the Knesset’s TV channel –  the Likud would gain 31 of 120 Knesset mandates, three more than it currently holds. Kadima would lose half of its present mandates and only send 14 MKs to the 19th Knesset. Yisrael Beitenu and Labor would both get 15 seats, with Avigdor Lieberman’s right-wing party retaining its current number of mandates while Shelly Yachimovich’s center-left faction would gain seven seats.

Shas, National Union and Meretz would each get six mandates, which would mean a significant increase for Meretz but a big loss for Shas.

The yet-to-be-founded party of former TV personality Yair Lapid would get 11 Knesset seats, according to the poll, the first to be published since Prime Minister Netanyahu won the Likud primaries against his far-right rival Moshe Feiglin. Atzmaut, the new faction founded by former Labor chairman and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, would not receive any mandates.

Shas, National Union and Meretz would each get six mandates, which would mean a significant increase for Meretz (with currently 3 seats) but a big loss for Shas (with currently 11 seats). The Arab lists as well as the Ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism party and Habayit Hayehudi would win more or less the same number of Knesset mandates they currently hold, each between three and five.

“National Union seems to gain from Feiglin’s loss, and Meretz seems to gain from the buzz of their leadership race, while Shas seems to lose from additional negative press directed at [party chairman Eli] Yishai, and Jewish Home barely passes the threshold,” according to Knesset consultant Jeremy Saltan, who published and analyzed the poll’s result on his website.

The Internet-based poll was presented during the Knesset channel’s evening news broadcast but received little media attention.

read more: