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Poll: Likud Beytenu, Left are Neck on Neck

Eleven days to elections: Second poll shows the right-hareidi bloc in the lead with 66 seats, but center-left parties still rival Likud.
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 1/11/2013, 9:51 AM

Netanyahu Votes
Netanyahu Votes
Flash 90

With 11 days to go until the elections, a second poll has followed the weekly Israel Radio survey in showing the political right coupled with hareidi parties with a clear lead. The poll, published by Yisrael Hayom, showed Likud Beytenu still well ahead of the pack with 35 seats.

The left-wing Labor party remained a distant second with 17 seats, and Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home) remained third-largest with 14 seats.

Both Shas and Yesh Atid were predicted to get 11 seats, while Tzipi Livni’s Hatnua (Movement) party got 9. The survey showed Kadima, the current Knesset’s largest faction, passing the minimum vote threshold with just two seats.

While Likud maintained a clear lead over other individual parties, the survey showed there may be cause for concern regarding the possible unification of center-left factions. If Yesh Atid, Labor and Hatnua were to present a joint leadership they would rival Likud Beytenu in size.

Likud insiders have warned that in such a scenario, President Shimon Peres could use his powers as president to nominate the center-left bloc, not Likud Beytenu, to make the first attempt to create a ruling coalition.

However, while Tzipi Livni has expressed interest in a center-left united front, Labor's response was skeptical while Yesh Atid showed disinterest.

In addition, Likud Beytenu appears to have more coalition options than the left bloc. Together with Bayit Yehudi, Shas, and the hareidi-religious Yahadut Hatorah (UTJ) faction it would have a majority of 66 seats. On the left, Meretz is predicted to get four seats.

The Arab factions are expected to maintain their current 11 seats. The breakaway factions Am Shalem and Otzma Leyisrael are still struggling near the voting threshold, and the Yisrael Hayom survey showed both failing to pass the minimum.

Likud was selected to form the current government after Kadima, then led by Tzipi Livni, failed to form a coalition despite its status as largest faction.