Week to election, Likud pulls ahead of Blue and White for first time in polls

Netanyahu’s party now looks the largest, but is no closer to a rightist-Haredi majority than before, two television surveys find

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, at a Likud party event in Lod, on February 11, 2020. (Flash90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, at a Likud party event in Lod, on February 11, 2020. (Flash90)

For the first time in this election cycle, Likud overtook its centrist rival Blue and White in polls released on Sunday.

Two major polls, one by Channel 12 and the other by the public broadcaster Kan, showed Likud squeaking past Blue and White in Knesset seats, in what many are interpreting as fallout from the revelations about an investigation into a firm once led by Blue and White leader Benny Gantz.

Gantz is not a suspect in the investigation.

The Channel 12 poll gave Likud 34 of the Knesset’s 120 seats, up one from the 33 seats it got in the last poll late last week. Blue and White, meanwhile, got 33 seats, two fewer than its previous showing. (In September’s elections Blue and White won 33 seats, to Likud’s 32.)

Blue and White party letter Benny Gantz speaks during a conference in Tel Aviv on February February 20, 2020. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

The results were similar in Kan’s poll, showing 35 seats for Likud and 34 for Blue and White.

It is not clear that the shift brings Israel any closer to ending the political deadlock that has forced three elections in 11 months, as voters who left Blue and White or rallied to Likud seemed to be doing so from other parties within their respective political blocs.

In Channel 12’s poll, the parties earned: Likud 34, Blue and White 33, Joint List 13, Labor-Gesher-Meretz 10 (up one from last time), Shas 8, United Torah Judaism 8, Yisrael Beytenu 7, and Yamina 7.

It shows that despite Likud’s slight bump, the pro-Benjamin Netanyahu coalition of Likud, Yamina and Haredi factions Shas and UTJ still garner just 57 seats, four short of a 61-seat parliamentary majority needed for an outright victory by the right.

Blue and White’s allies also do not have a majority, with its most likely coalition partners of Labor-Gesher-Meretz and Yisrael Beytenu bringing it to just 50 seats.

The Kan survey showed Likud at 35, Blue and White 34, Joint List 14, Labor-Gesher-Meretz 9, Shas 8, United Torah Judaism 7, Yisrael Beytenu 7, and Yamina 6.

That gives the pro-Netanyahu coalition just 56 seats, and Blue and White’s easiest coalition the same 50 as the Channel 12 poll.

Channel 12 also asked respondents who they believed was best suited to be prime minister. Netanyahu led Gantz by 43% to 33%. Another 18% said neither, and 6% didn’t give an answer.

Kan asked if Israelis were concerned about going to their voting stations amid the coronavirus outbreak. The vast majority — 80% — said they were not worried, while 14% said they were.

The Channel 12 poll was conducted by pollster Mano Geva. It interviewed 501 people in a combined telephone and internet survey, with a margin of error of 4.4%. The Kan survey was conducted by Kantar, and has a margin of error 3.8%.

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