Polls conducted by the three main television channels Thursday showed the newly formed Democratic Camp, a merger between Meretz and Ehud Barak’s Israel Democratic Party along with Labor defector Stav Shaffir, performing reasonably well, but doing nothing to change the general balance between the left- and right-wing blocs.
The Democratic Camp’s figures varied and it was predicted to win between eight and 12 seats in the 120-member Knesset in the three surveys.
Meanwhile, Labor fell even lower than its current six seats to five in two of the polls, with party chief Amir Peretz’s merger with Orly Levy-Abekasis’s Gesher seemingly falling short of overcoming the Democratic Camp’s momentum.
None of the polls predict Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be able to form a coalition without his nemesis Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu party.
Peretz on Thursday insisted he would not consider merging Labor with the Democratic Camp, despite Labor’s poor showing in the new surveys.
“I’m not uniting with Meretz and Barak. These are two separate tracks,” he told Channel 12.
He said he was “only at the start of the campaign” and expressed confidence that he would yet climb now that “the political map is stabilizing.”
Peretz added that he wished to remain separate from the left-wing alliance, as “our way gives a chance to bring votes from the right.”
A poll conducted by Channel 12 news gave the ruling Likud party 29 seats, Blue and White 27, and the Joint (Arab) List 11. The Democratic Camp and Yisrael Beytenu had 10 each, the New Right had nine, United Torah Judaism (UTJ) had eight, Shas had seven, Labor had five and the Union of Right-Wing Parties (URWP) had four. According to that poll, Netanyahu and his allies would have 57 seats without Liberman, not enough to form a coalition.
A Channel 13 news poll gave Likud 28, Blue and White just 23, and the Democratic Camp 12. The Joint List got 11, New Right 10, Yisrael Beytenu 10, Labor seven, UTJ six, Shas five, URWP four and Moshe Feiglin’s Zehut four. In this scenario, Netanyahu and his allies also take 57 seats.
The Kan public broadcaster also conducted a poll, predicting 30 seats each for Likud and Blue and White. Joint List is next with 10, then Yisrael Beytenu and New Right with nine, the Democratic Camp and UTJ with eight, Shas with seven, Labor with five and URWP with four. Netanyahu and his allies would have 58 seats.
It was Liberman’s refusal to join a Netanyahu-led coalition after the April elections due to an impasse with ultra-Orthodox parties that resulted in the dissolving of parliament and new elections being set for September 17. Netanyahu fumed at Liberman over his refusal and Likud officials have since vowed they won’t form a government with Yisrael Beytenu.
Liberman has said he wishes to force a unity government that would include Likud, Blue and White and his own party, without the ultra-Orthodox parties. But Blue and White leaders have said they will not join a Likud-led coalition so long as the party is led by Netanyahu.