With 64 days to go until the November 1 elections, the side that’s expected to get the first crack at forging a coalition government – Benjamin Netanyahu et al – is still stuck without the necessary 61 mandates, according to the latest Panels Politics poll by Menachem Lazar published Monday morning by Radio 103FM.
According to the poll, if the elections were held today, Netanyahu’s Likud party would have won 32 seats in the Knesset, but won’t be able to form a government. Together with the 12 mandates of the united Religious Zionism and Otzma Yehudit, the 8 mandates of Shas, and the 7 of United Torah Judaism, Netanyahu’s right-wing bloc reaches only 59 mandates.
Across the aisle, Prime Minister Yair Lapid, whose party, Yesh Atid, wins 23 seats (up from 17) is also stuck. Together with the National Camp led by Benny Gantz, Gideon Sa’ar, and Gadi Eisenkot that gets 13 mandates, Israel Beitenu, Labor, and Meretz that get 5 seats each, and Ra’am that holds on to its 4 seats, Lapid’s bloc reaches only 55 mandates.
As always, the Joint Arab List maintains its 6 seats, but, being the pariah of Israeli politics, it’s doubtful Lapid would invite them into his government, even as supportive outsiders. His coalition partners Liberman and Sa’ar would not go for it.
The Zionist Spirit (might as well be called the Zionist Ghost) led by Ayelet Shaked and Yoaz Hendel remains below the 3.25% threshold. This could eventually mean good news for the right: if the voters see Shaked failing time and again to cross the thresholds in the polls, they could be convinced not to waste their votes on her and opt instead to support Religious Zionism. They also decide to go with the Likud. But, of course, they could also go with Gantz or Lapid.
The poll did not examine two emerging splits, one between the Hasidim and Lithuanians in UTJ, and the other between Balad and the Communists in the Joint Arab List. But it did ask about a union of Labor and Meretz. Turns out to be bad for both: apart they score 5 seats each, together only 9, as some Labor voters would shift their vote to Lapid.
Former Israel Beitenu bad boy Eli Avidar, who gained his popularity as an organizer of the mass protests outside then PM Netanyahu’s residence on Balfour Street in Jerusalem, was saying he’d join Ra’am as their token Jew. Not a good idea: Ra’am keeps its 4 seats with him or without him.
Another bad idea: uniting Yesh Atid with the National Camp. Together they get 33 seats, to become the largest party in the Knesset. But apart they score 36.
The most important politician with the greatest momentum today according to the poll is Itamar Ben Gvir. Not only does his union with Bezalel Smotrich reaps the best number of seats gained by the NRP and its successor, Habayit Hayehudi – 12 – but the poll found that Ben Gvir leads the day on the left as well. His proposed Expulsion Act, allowing the government to expel anyone who is caught trying to act against the state or IDF soldiers, received the support of 64% of respondents. Moreover, the right-wing bloc respondents embraced the proposed law by a margin of 80% – this after senior Likud officials objected to it, declaring the next Netanyahu government would not adopt the bill. Oops…
But wait, there’s more: 47% of the center-left bloc respondents also endorsed Ben Gvir’s proposed law.
Now, considering the fact that Smotrich capitulated to Ben Gvir’s demands in their negotiations last week under pressure from Netanyahu, and rumors that part of this pressure involved Netanyahu’s promise to give Ben Gvir a ministerial position in his upcoming government – will our heartfelt wishes that he be given the Internal Security Ministry (Omer Barlev’s old job) come true?
The survey included 518 respondents, based on a representative sample of Jews and Arabs ages 18 and over, with a sampling error of 4.1%. Personally, I prefer a bigger field with the sampling error being kept around 3%. But you take it or leave it as you see fit.