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Poll predicts 7 small parties would fail to clear electoral threshold

Survey underscores likelihood of mergers before Feb. 4 deadline; neither Netanyahu nor his rivals projected to be able to form coalition

The heads of the Gesher and Labour factions Orly Levy- Abekasis and Amir Peretz, at their joint party headquarters in Tel Aviv on election night, March 2, 2020. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)
The heads of the Gesher and Labour factions Orly Levy- Abekasis and Amir Peretz, at their joint party headquarters in Tel Aviv on election night, March 2, 2020. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

Compounding the current fragmentation in Israel’s political landscape and as multiple mergers are expected over the next few weeks, a survey published Tuesday indicated that seven small political parties headed by known politicians and officials would not cross the electoral threshold if elections were held today.

That included the left-wing Labor party, Moshe Ya’alon’s center-right Telem, Bezalel Smotrich’s right-wing National Union, Orly Levy-Abekasis’ center-right Gesher, Ofer Shelah’s center-left Tnufa, Itamar Ben-Gvir’s far-right Otzma Yehudit, and Yaron Zelekha’s New Economic Party.

Some of those parties are expected to merge with others ahead of a February 4 deadline. The election will be held on March 23.

The Channel 12 survey gave Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party the most seats (29), followed by Gideon Sa’ar’s New Hope (16), Naftali Bennett’s Yamina (13), Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid (13), the Joint List (10), Shas (8), United Torah Judaism (8), Yisrael Beytenu (7), Ron Huldai’s The Israelis (6), Meretz (5), and Blue and White (5).

Otzma Yehudit party member Itamar Ben Gvir (R) speaks with National Union faction leader Betzalel Smotrich during a campaign event in Bat Yam, April 6, 2019. (Flash90)

The figures indicate a majority coalition is likely out of reach for both Netanyahu and his rivals, which would risk another election, the fifth since April 2019.

The survey also tested how many seats Yamina and New Hope would win if they ran on a joint ticket. Both right-wing parties are challenging Netanyahu’s leadership, and New Hope leader Sa’ar has vowed not to join a coalition headed by Netanyahu.

The survey gave the hypothetical combined party 25 seats, four fewer than if they run independently.

It also found that if all center-left parties merged, their slate would win 28 seats, compared to 30 for Likud.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, speaks to then-education minister Gideon Sa’ar as they arrive at the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, August 26, 2012. (AP Photo/Uriel Sinai/Getty Images, Pool, File)

The survey was conducted Tuesday by the Midgam institute among 508 respondents constituting a representative sample of Israeli adults, with polling done both online and by phone. The margin of error was 4.4%.

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.

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