Israel Election Polls Published

The season's first polls show the next coalition will need at least two religious and nationalist parties. Neither Livni nor Bibi have it easy.

Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu , | updated: 12:49 AM

The first polls of the Israel election season were published Monday and show a dramatic increase in support for the Likud party and a large drop in support for the Labor party.

Following is the current lineup of the Knesset with the projected number of seats for each party. The first column shows the results of the Dahaf poll published in Yediot Ahronot; the second column shows the Teleseker poll published in Ma'ariv, and the third column displays the seats in the current Knesset.

29 31  [29] Kadima 
26 29  [12] Likud
11 11  [19] Labor
11 08  [12] Shas
10 11  [10] Arab parties
09 11  [11] Yisrael Beiteinu
07 07  [09] Nat'l Union/NRP
07 04  [06] United Torah Judaism
06 05  [05] Meretz
02 03  [00] Green
02 00 [07] Pensioners
00 00 [00] Social Justice (Gaydamak)

New elections are all but official, and the Knesset may decide this week, possibly as early as Monday evening, to dissolve. The move would allow elections within 90 days.

The polls show that if Kadima chairwoman Tzipi Livni is chosen to make another try at forming the next government, she will have a tougher time than she did in her failed attempt of the last month to create a coalition.

If Likud chairman Binyamin Netanyahu is chosen, the inclusion of the religious and nationalist parties - National Union, Shas, Yisael Beiteinu and UTJ - would leave him one seat short of a majority. The Pensioners probably could fill the bill.

For Livni to formulate a coalition, she would have to appeal to two or three of the religious and nationalist parties. Another option would be the humiliating move of appeasing Netanyahu and forming a unity government with the Likud.

In the best possible circumstance, assuming the questionable scenario that Green wins two seats, Livni's option of a Kadima-Meretz-Labor coalition is virtually impossible, according to the polls, unless she would include the Arab parties. Even if Pensioners and the Green party were to join, she would be lacking 11 MKs, and it is more than unlikely that such a coalition could include a religious or nationalist party.

The results of the polls are bound to change, and the most questionable numbers concern Shas, National Union, Pensioners and the Green party, which has yet to win enough votes to enter the Knesset.