Polls: Likud, Blue and White in tight battle, but right-wing bloc clearly ahead

In Channel 12’s final survey before April 9 elections, Gantz’s party leads by 4, while Kan shows Netanyahu’s party ahead by 1, but both polls suggest PM best-placed to keep his job

A man walks past campaign posters bearing the portraits of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) and former IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz (R), one of the leaders of the Blue and White party, in Tel Aviv on April 3, 2019. (Jack Guez/AFP)
A man walks past campaign posters bearing the portraits of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) and former IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz (R), one of the leaders of the Blue and White party, in Tel Aviv on April 3, 2019. (Jack Guez/AFP)

Likud and Blue and White remained locked in a tight battle for supremacy Thursday, five days before Israelis cast their votes, with each party taking the lead in one of two separate polls, some of the last to be published before the April 9 vote. But both polls showed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu best-placed to form a majority coalition.

A Channel 12 survey, the network’s final poll, saw Blue and White beat out Netanyahu’s Likud to be the largest party in the Knesset.

Blue and White, an alliance of retired army chief Benny Gantz’s Israel Resilience and Yair Lapid’s centrist Yesh Atid party, will receive 30 seats in the upcoming vote, four more than Likud, with 26, the poll found.

While a pair of polls published by other news outlets this week had Likud leading Blue and White, Channel 12 said that its survey also factored in the likelihood that supporters of the two parties would vote.

Polling well behind Blue and White and Likud, in third place, was the opposition Labor Party with 10 seats, followed by Hadash-Ta’al and United Torah Judaism with seven seats apiece.

The New Right, led by former members of the Jewish Home Naftali Bennett, the education minister, and Ayelet Shaked, the justice minister, was given six seats in the poll, while the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, left-wing Meretz, right-wing Zehut, center-right Kulanu and former defense minister Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu received five seats each.

Also picking up five seats was the Union of Right-Wing Parties, a merger of the pro-settlement Jewish Home and National Union parties with the extremist Otzma Yehudit party.

Rounding out the poll with four seats was Ra’am-Balad, an alliance of two Arab parties that, along with Hadash-Ta’al, made up the Joint List in the outgoing Knesset.

Failing to clear the electoral threshold of 3.25 percent of the total vote was Gesher, a party headed by independent MK Orly Levy-Abekasis.

In total, Blue and White, along with center-left and Arab parties, would receive 56 seats, versus 64 for Likud with the right-wing and ultra-Orthodox parties.

With 61 seats needed for a majority in the 120-seat Knesset, Blue and White would face difficulties building a ruling coalition without the support of parties on the right.

Benny Gantz, left, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right. (Gili Yaari, Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Asked who they preferred to be prime minister, 36% of poll respondents said Netanyahu, only just beating out Gantz at 35%.

Despite this parity, 58% of those polled said they believed Netanyahu will be premier after elections, with only 21% saying Gantz would become leader.

The poll was conducted by the Midgam polling firm. It included 1,290 responds and a 2.8% margin of error.

In a separate survey released Thursday by the Kan public broadcaster, its last as well, Likud was the biggest party with 31 seats, just ahead of Blue and White with 30.

They were followed by Labor and Hadash-Ta’al with eight seats each; the New Right, Union of Right-Wing Parties, United Torah Judaism, Meretz and Zehut with six apiece; Kulanu with 5; and Shas and Ra’am-Balad with four.

Yisrael Beytenu failed to clear the electoral threshold.

Despite the different results from the Channel 12 poll, Kan also gave the right-wing and Haredi parties 64 seats together, as opposed to 56 for the center-left and Arab parties.

Kan also asked how respondents would vote if Blue and White ditched its agreed upon rotation deal under which Lapid would take over for Gantz as prime minister after two-and-a-half years.

While Blue and White would be the largest party under such a scenario, winning 33 seats to Likud’s 30, it would still only have 58 seats along with the other center-left and Arab parties.

The Kan survey was made up of 1,295 respondents and had a 2.5% margin of error.

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