Poll: 61% want a coalition without Haredi parties; Huldai slips below threshold

Survey indicates opposition to ultra-Orthodox factions amid frustration over lockdown infractions by parts of the community

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (center), Interior Minister Aryeh Deri (right) and then-health minister Yaakov Litzman (left) attend a conference in Lod on November 20, 2016. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (center),with Shas party leader Aryeh Deri (right) and United Torah Judaism head Yaakov Litzman (left) at a conference in Lod, November 20, 2016. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

A poll published Tuesday indicated that 61 percent of Israeli voters would prefer a governing coalition that does not include ultra-Orthodox political parties after the March elections.

Only 22% of respondents were in favor of a government with ultra-Orthodox, or Haredi, parties, the Channel 12 survey said.

Fifty-two percent of right-wing voters and 78% of center-left voters preferred a coalition that excluded ultra-Orthodox parties, the survey said.

The results highlighted mounting frustration over the refusal to adhere to lockdown restrictions by parts of the Haredi public.

Some ultra-Orthodox groups have clashed with police who were enforcing virus restrictions, rioted in the streets and kept schools open in violation of the rules.  Some ultra-Orthodox leaders, including Housing Minister Yaakov Litzman, have blamed police for the violence.

The Tuesday survey also predicted that Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai’s new party, The Israelis, would fall below the electoral threshold and fail to make it into the Knesset. It was the first time a poll said the faction would not make it into the Knesset since Huldai launched it last month.

The survey forecast a slight drop in support for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party, and opposition leader Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid faction was the second most popular party for the first time in months.

If elections were held Tuesday, the poll indicated that Likud would receive 29 seats; the center-left Yesh Atid, 16; Gideon Sa’ar’s right-wing New Hope, 15; right-wing Yamina, 14; the Arab majority Joint List, 10; ultra-Orthodox Shas and United Torah Judaism, 8 each; right-wing Yisrael Beytenu, 7; the dovish Meretz, 5; and the center-left Blue and White and Labor, 4 each.

The Israelis would receive just 2.7% of the vote, just shy of the 3.25% electoral threshold, the survey said. Also failing to cross the benchmark were right-wing Jewish Home, the far-right Otzma Yehudit, Bezalel Smotrich’s Religious Zionist Party, Moshe Ya’alon’s center-right Telem, Ofer Shelah’s center-left Tnufa and Yaron Zelekha’s New Economics Party.

Votes worth roughly 12 seats in the 120-seat Knesset would go to parties on pace to fall below the electoral threshold, Channel 12, underlining the potential inaccuracy of such surveys.

Yesh Atid’s Yair Lapid, January 5, 2021. (Elad Guttman)

Together with the ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism and Shas parties, Netanyahu’s right-wing religious bloc would get 45 seats, far short of the 61 seats needed for a governing coalition. Even if Yamina were to rejoin the fold with its 14 seats after being left out of the last government, Netanyahu would still be just short of a majority.

Parties opposed to Netanyahu do not have a clear path to a majority government either, without bridging significant differences between them to form a coalition.

The poll surveyed 514 Israelis online and over the phone and had a 4.4% margin of error.

While horse-race polls are an almost daily occurrence in Israel in the months leading up to elections and are not seen as overly reliable, taken together the surveys can often serve as a general gauge of the political climate and where the vote may be headed.

Elections — the fourth in two years — were called last month after the power-sharing government of Likud and Blue and White failed to agree on a budget by a December 23 deadline. The election will be held on March 23.

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