Netanyahu coalition expands lead, pulls ahead in election polling

A partnership of right-wing and religious parties gives the incumbent prime minister 65 seats in the 120-seat Knesset, according to a poll announced on public broadcasting.  

By World Israel News Staff

A public opinion poll just released by Israeli public broadcaster Kan is showing an increasing lead, ahead of the April 9 Knesset election, of parties which are considered likely to join a government coalition headed by the incumbent, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The prime minister’s own party, the Likud, would not finish first, according to the survey, conducted for Kan by the Direct Polls company.

Blue and White, headed by former military chief Benny Gantz, would win 30 seats in the 120-member Israeli parliament, and the Likud would earn 28 seats.

However, the total number of seats of parties considered natural Netanyahu partners reaches 65 in this new poll.

Previous polls which had shown that the outgoing government partners would not garner a parliamentary majority prompted Netanyahu to urge smaller right-wing parties to run together in the April vote.

The Union of Right-Wing Parties, an electoral list which merged at the behest of Netanyahu, would earn five seats, according to the latest Direct Polls survey.

The majority predicted for the prime minister is comprised mostly of current coalition members. A new party, Zehut, headed by former Likud MK Moshe Feiglin is shown as winning six seats. A big boon for Netanyahu is the improved showing of a party headed by Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, which had earlier disappeared from the political radar by not receiving enough support in opinion polls to enter the Knesset, but is now posted as winning six seats.

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In addition to right-wing parties, a Netanyahu coalition would also include religious factions.

Weighing against Blue and White’s chances of forming a government is that such a coalition would be dependent upon Arab MKs, or what are known as non-Zionist parties. Until now, such parties have not officially joined Israeli governments, though in some situations, agreements have been reached to receive their support from outside the governing coalition.

Other partners to a Gantz-led government would include the center-left Labor and left-wing Meretz parties, which win only a combined 13 seats, according to the Direct Polls-Kan survey.