Polling continues to show a split that could force like-minded parties to decide to run together in the April ballot.
By David Jablinowitz, World Israel News
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s repeated warnings that right-wing unity is crucial to ensuring control of the next government is backed up by the latest opinion poll ahead of the April 9th Knesset election.
According to a joint i24/Israel Hayom survey conducted by the Ma’agar Mochot Institute, if the election were held now, the likely partners in a future Netanyahu government would receive a combined 57 seats, short of a majority in the 120-seat parliament.
The prime minister’s own Likud party remains stable with 32 seats, but some smaller parties would not garner enough votes to enter the Knesset at all, according to the poll. Parties in the outgoing government coalition that would not enter include Jewish Home, which split at the end of December when faction leaders Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked formed a new party called the New Right.
The new Bennett-Shaked party would receive seven seats, according to the latest survey.
A socio-economic based party in the current government, Kulanu, headed by Finance Minister Moshe Kachlon also failed to gain enough support to enter the Knesset. The same goes for Yisrael Beitenu, headed by MK Avigdor Liberman, who quit as defense minister and pulled his party out of the government in November, a move which is viewed as ultimately having led the prime minister to call for an early election because it left the Netanyahu coalition with only 61 seats, the thinnest of parliamentary majorities.
By law, the Knesset ballot would have been this coming November.
The failure of current coalition parties to gain enough seats does not mean that the center-left is assured control of the next government.
The leading party considered an alternative to Netanyahu, Israel Resilience, has also dropped in polls from a peak of 24 to 19 seats, though another party wishing to unseat the incumbent prime minister, Yesh Atid, has climbed to 12 seats in the latest poll. There are calls by Netanyahu opponents for these two parties to run together to help the chances to bring about a change in government.
One of the questions that remain open is whether voters will cast their ballots based on the more traditional perception of right-wing and left-wing politics or focus on the personalities of the candidates. What is also unclear is whether parties which have stated their objection to joining a Netanyahu government would do so if the Likud, in fact, prevails as the largest faction by a sizeable margin.
In the past, a split in election results has caused parties from different sides of the political spectrum to join forces in a broad-based government.