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Israeli election polls: Netanyahu losing support to the extreme right

According to the latest polls, all center and left-wing parties will win fewer seats than in the current Knesset. 

A little over a month is left until the Knesset elections, and polls are being published more and more frequently, including six polls published just this weekend. We have updated five of them on our Poll Tracking Page; the sixth violates our house rules – presenting the “Arab Parties” as one bloc – and was therefore disqualified.

Here is an average of the polls presented as a pie chart. The blue parties represent the right wing, gray and black are the orthodox parties, purple represents the center, red represents the left and green the Arab and joint Arab-Jewish parties.

While these polls have considerable variations on the results for the individual parties (Tzipi Livni’s party ranges from 6.5 seats in one poll to 11 on another) a few common trends can be noticed:

– Avigdon Lieberman and Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Beitenu party is losing support to the hard right. Likud Bietenu is currently polling 37 seats (the two parties have 42 Knesset sears right now), and more importantly, the general trend is downward (Likud Beitenu had more than 38 seats in last week’s average, and closer to 40 a month ago). At the same time, Naftali Bennet’s National Religious Party now averages 12 seats, while the radical Otzma Le’Israel Party – which had a racist campaign ad disqualified by the central election committee last week – is coming very close to passing the minimum threshold. Combined, their average of 13 seats represent a rise of 6 seats from the number they have in the current Knesset. Netanyahu’s recent behavior and his willingness to confront the world on the issue of the settlements betray an understanding that his real challenge comes from the right.

– The center-left parties are not gaining momentum. When combined, Kadima, Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid, and Tzipi Livni’s Hatnuah do not reach the number of seats Kadima held in the previous elections (28), and taken together, the center, left and Arab parties have fewer seats (52 in our poll average) than in the current Knesset (55). The right is still on the rise in Israel.

– The right-orthodox bloc holds a lead of roughly 10 seats over the center-left. Netanyahu is the only candidate who will be able to form a government after the elections. His problem will be the coalition, which might not be as stable as the current one, especially if Likud Beitenu ends up getting 35-36 seats or less.

We still have more than a month ahead of us, and the Likud campaign hasn’t started yet. Israeli election laws allocates campaign funding according to party sizes, which means that Netanyahu will be able to significantly outspend all of his rivals. Thus, the current trend might still reverse itself in favor of the prime minister.

Off topic: I started writing op-eds in Hebrew for Maariv daily paper again. Here is today‘s piece.

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    1. Kolumn9

      Your Hebrew article never actually explains why the continuation of the status quo is worse than the other options. It doesn’t even bother to explain the existential risk it poses. It just lists a bunch of things that makes Israel look bad. I like your English stuff more because it is usually more dispassionate and logical.

      The persistent problem for the left’s case is that for most Israelis the reason for the military presence in the West Bank is made obvious every time a rocket is fired from Gaza. No shrill moral haranguing is going to change this logic.

      Between the left’s limp moral posturing and the right’s nationalist and religious forceful justification of an extremely logical continuation of the status quo the choice is obvious. Why would anyone choose to believe indefinitely that they are in the wrong when all logic suggests that they have no choice? This is the reason why the NRP is taking 12 seats while Meretz is polling 4 or less.

      I think the left should start polishing off the Jordanian option because I don’t foresee a major change in Israeli society towards trusting the Palestinians with any meaningful amount of sovereignty in the West Bank.

      Reply to Comment
      • William Burns

        Yeah, what’s the point of Palestinians maintaining peace on the West Bank and cooperating with Israeli security when it doesn’t buy them anything. Get ready for intifada 3.

        Reply to Comment
        • Kolumn9

          Ask the Palestinians what the second intifada bought them and why maintaining peace might be valuable in itself.

          Reply to Comment
          • The point, K9, is that the PA in the Bank does engage in security activities to the benefit of Israeli security. To equate Gaza and the Bank is to employ a rather standard racist canard.

            Reply to Comment
          • Kolumn9

            There is something racist in pointing out that Hamas won the election in the West Bank in 2006 and that the PA has already once been forced out of power? Is it racist to point out that many of the suicide bombers blowing up in Israel came from Hebron and Jenin and not from Gaza? It seems more like common sense to suggest that the people of the West Bank and Gaza are not particularly different and that the result of an Israeli withdrawal from one is likely to be the same as a withdrawal from another. And really, throwing out this racism charge is intellectually lazy on your part, not to mention fundamentally dishonest.

            Reply to Comment
          • The Trespasser

            >the PA in the Bank does engage in security activities to the benefit of Israeli security.

            So does Hamas in Gaza, to a lesser extent of course.
            So what?

            Are you suggesting that West Bank Palestinian and Gaza Palestinians are not parts of the same nation?

            Glad that you’ve finally realized that.

            Reply to Comment
    2. How depressing. I only see two possibilities,
      the International Criminal Court or a one state solution endorsed by the extreme right.

      Reply to Comment
      • Kolumn9

        The ICC, even if the PA gets away with applying there, would change nothing but the travel plans of the Israeli leaders under threat of indictment.

        There will be no one state solution, because such a thing is a paradox. It solves nothing. There will be small Palestinian islands of sovereignty recognized as Palestine by the international community until the Palestinians decide to become pragmatic in their demands and adjust for Israeli security needs.

        Reply to Comment
      • I too think the PA should apply for standing in the ICC, not to overturn the occupation, but to focus on direct abuses of monopoly power under occupation. The killing of the just turned 17 year old makes it clear to me that another forum is necessary, as an experiment, in a call for rights absent granted sovereignty.

        Reply to Comment
        • XYZ

          You forgot to mention that the ICC would also have to investigate the indiscriminate firing of rockets into Israeli population centers by the official Palestinian regime controlled by HAMAS in Gaza and the genocidal antisemitic propaganda put out by both Palestinian regimes (HAMAS-Gaza and FATAH-West Bank) which is also considered a war crime.

          Reply to Comment
        • The Trespasser

          I’m glad that killing of the 17-yr. old made it clear to you that another forum is necessary.

          Here, in Israel, we are rather well aware of it, especially after several attacks carried out by Palestinian teenagers.

          On November 1, 16-year-old Aamer Alfar blew himself in Tel Aviv’s Carmel Market, killing 3 Israelis in a suicide bombing that was claimed by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine


          Another forum huh?


          Reply to Comment
          • David

            You omit the year of the Carmel Market attack. Are you trying to imply it was recent? It happened back in 2004, and there have been no suicide bombs since April 2008.

            The far right seems unable to face the fact that Abbas has kept the peace. The West Bank has now been quiet for nearly 5 years, and its people have adopted a strategy of peaceful protest.

            What is Israel offering in return?

            Reply to Comment
          • Kolumn9

            Are you suggesting that Abbas should be rewarded for not having Palestinian suicide bombers blow up Israeli civilians on buses and restaurants? That seems like a pretty low bar for a reward.

            The far right, medium far right, right, center right, center, center left, and the left all have seen first hand that Israeli security measures, not Arafat’s and Abbas’s incompetent forces in 2002-2008 stopped the suicide bombers by shutting down the West Bank. The far left, which was writing articles in all media about how only concessions will stop the suicide bombers, are now rushing to grant credit to Abbas who for this mercy shown to the poor Jews should be rewarded with security assets that will make it easier for the next generation of suicide bombers to kill more Jews. Brilliant.

            Israel is offering quiet in return for quiet. Israel is offering a two state for two peoples solution which will grant the Palestinians a state and Israeli security. What are the Palestinians offering? Two Palestinian states?

            Reply to Comment
          • The Trespasser

            No, I’m only implying that Palestinian terrorists come in all genders and ages.

            Abbas kept peace?
            xD xD

            Reply to Comment
        • Aaron Gross

          You haven’t seen the video of the attack yet?

          Reply to Comment
    3. XYZ

      I wish that, for once, the “progressives” would look in a mirror and ask themselves honestly why the so-called “peace process” has failed and why the majority of the Israeli populace votes for parties on the Right which the “progressives” oppose.

      Reply to Comment
    4. Vadim

      This article repeats the same stupidity Israeli media makes – dividing the parties into two blocks and calling one Center-Left.

      How can you group a “block” from Communist Shelly, former Likud Tzipi, Extreme Left Merez, a nationalist Arab party and Yair Lapid with his ties to Israel’s capital?

      You can’t, it’s not a block. Just a bunch of parties with nothing to unite them except their personal hatred toward Netanyahu.

      Reply to Comment
    5. Mitchell Cohen

      Logistically, I think the title of the article is misleading. Netanyahu is not “losing support”. As long as Netanyahu wins the most votes and is able to form a coalition (which he most certainly would with Bayit HaYehudi, the religious parties, etc.) then he is as sure to be the next PM as always. Now if Labor’s, HaTenuah’s party, Meretz’s, or Yaish Atid’s votes were going up significantly at the expense of Likud/Beitenu, then that would be a different story.

      Reply to Comment
    6. etinzon

      To all the people suggesting that the majority is right because it is a majority : I can think easily on several democratic elections in which the really WORSE party for that country won and where the voters regret their choice forever. Nationalistic choices are the easier , other ones require thinking actually

      Reply to Comment
      • Kolumn9

        The majority is not right because it is the majority. The majority is the majority because the people think it is right. Nationalistic choices are indeed easier because the situation makes them make more sense than the alternative.

        Reply to Comment
    7. Carl

      Noam, can you clarify the key for me? ‘Jewish Home’ are put at 12 but that statistic is referred to in the article as NRP. Is this just down to the constant YB/Likud/NRP/Otzma/etc. mergers and breakups?


      Reply to Comment
      • Kolumn9

        The “Jewish Home” was known as the National Religious Party (NRP) for 50+ years before changing its name due to a merger with the National Union in the last election (the merger fell apart in practice).

        Reply to Comment
    8. Adam Keller

      Kadima’s 28 seats in the previous elections included several Knesset Members who were right-wing through and through, voting for every piece of anti-democratic legislation which came up. Hopefully, there will be less such in the coming Knesset, so the “drop” of center-left seats from 55 to 52 is illusory.

      Reply to Comment
      • Piotr Berman

        Indeed, Kadima started as the offshoot of Likud, kind of like Mensheviks in the split of Russian Social Democrats, and was joined by some people from Labor. So now it is effectively replaced by two parties with splinters going to the left and to the right.

        Reply to Comment
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      Reply to Comment
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