Poll shows 10% of voters support parties that fall below electoral threshold

Nine factions expected to fail to enter Knesset, highlighting need for mergers ahead of Thursday deadline for submitting election slates

Ron Huldai, Tel Aviv mayor and head of The Israelis party, holds a press coference in Tel Aviv, January 24, 2021. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
Ron Huldai, Tel Aviv mayor and head of The Israelis party, holds a press coference in Tel Aviv, January 24, 2021. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

An election poll released on Sunday indicated about 10 percent of the electorate support parties that are not expected to win enough votes to make it into the Knesset, highlighting the need for party mergers before electoral slates are finalized on Thursday.

The Channel 12 poll showed results similar to other recent surveys, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party and opposition chief Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid strengthening slightly over Gideon Sa’ar’s New Hope and Naftali Bennett’s Yamina.

Likud was predicted to win 30 seats in the 120-member Knesset; Yesh Atid 17; New Hope 14; Yamina 13; Joint List 10; Shas 8; United Torah Judaism 8; Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu 7; Labor 5; Meretz 4; and Blue and White 4.

The survey did not show a clear path to a majority coalition for any party. Likud and its longtime ultra-Orthodox allies would have 46 seats, far short of the 61 needed to form a majority. With the right-wing Yamina the bloc would still fall short with 59 seats. It is unlikely that any other party would join a coalition led by Netanyahu.

An anti-Netanyahu coalition, meanwhile, would need to bridge significant differences to amass 61 seats by reconciling factions like the right-wing New Hope and dovish Meretz, for example.

Gideon Sa’ar seen during a visit to Hadassah Ein Kerem Medical Center in Jerusalem on December 16, 2020. (Yonatan Sindel/ Flash90)

The Joint List is set to break apart, and without the renegade Ra’am faction it was predicted to win one less seat, at nine, while Labor would gain a seat. Ra’am was not predicted to make it into the Knesset alone.

Among the parties failing to clear the 3.25% electoral threshold were Ron Huldai’s The Israelis with 1.2%, and Moshe Ya’alon’s Telem at just 0.2% of the vote.

Also predicted to fail to clear the threshold were the New Economics party, the Religious Zionist/Jewish Home faction headed by Bezalel Smotrich, the extremist Otzma Yehudit, Tnufa, Gesher, Green Leaf and Danny Yatom’s retirees party.

Labor has seen a significant boost since Merav Michaeli won its leadership position in a primary vote, pushing the floundering center-left party above the electoral threshold.

A merger between The Israelis and Labor was predicted to win seven seats and cause Yesh Atid and Yisrael Beytenu to lose one seat each. Former justice minister Avi Nissenkorn left the Israelis on Sunday, opening up the possibility of a merger for The Israelis and Labor.

Mergers are seen as a virtual certainty this week on the center-left and on the right, to prevent votes from going to small parties that fail to enter the Knesset in the March 23 elections. Mergers typically happen between parties that are close to each other ideologically.

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 survey was based on responses from 505 voters on Sunday and had a margin of error of 4.4 percentage points,

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