Meretz Fears Livni Effect

Ultra-leftist party's poll numbers shrank by half upon Tzipi Livni's entry into the race.

Gil Ronen ,

MK Zehava Galon
MK Zehava Galon
Israel news photo: Flash 90

The ultra-leftist Meretz party fears that Tzipi Livni's entry into the race for the 19th Knesset will foil any meaningful achievement for Meretz at the polls.

If Livni succeeds in siphoning away potential Meretz voters, it will be the second straight election in which she does this. According to Channel 2, Livni's entry into the fray only "sharpened the trauma" that Meretz still feels from "that accursed year" of 2009.

It was then that Livni first ran at the head of Kadima, causing many voters who would have voted for Meretz, under Zehava Gal-On, to opt instead for Livni, who had a much better chance of defeating Netanyahu.

Kadima received more Knesset seats than Likud but failed to turn this victory into a ruling coalition.

Meretz fears the "Livni effect" will strike it again. Polls that showed Meretz with five or six seats in the next Knesset began projecting that it would receive three seats, or four at the most, once Livni announced her candidacy at the head of a new movement.

Many of the voters who switched from Meretz to Livni in the previous election were women. According to reports after the election, 55% of the people who voted for Kadima were women, and according to pollster Kalman Geier, Kadima under Livni received the support of 60% of secular women.

In the current highly feminized political atmosphere, there are three parties headed by women, and they all appear to be competing for the left-of-center vote. The largest of these is Labor under Shelly Yechimovich, which has been trying to steer clear of contentious security and diplomacy questions, and focus on the economy. 

None of the three parties are likely to join a Netanyahu-led coalition.