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Almost a Tie

Livni takes the lead Photo: Gil Yohanan
Livni takes the lead Photo: Gil Yohanan
 
Netanyahu close behind Photo: AFP
Netanyahu close behind Photo: AFP
 
Labor plunges with Barak Photo: Gil Yohanan
Labor plunges with Barak Photo: Gil Yohanan
 
 

Kadima beats Likud in new poll

Dahaf-Yedioth Ahronoth survey published Monday morning points to close race, as Livni takes the lead with 29 Knesset seats, Netanyahu follows with 26 seats. Labor plummets to 11 seats, while Shas may lose power

Ynet
Published: 10.27.08, 07:27 / Israel News

Kadima Chairwoman Tzipi Livni appears to be enjoying the fruit of her declaration that she will not give in to extortion. A new Yedioth Ahronoth survey conducted by the Dahaf Institute and published Monday morning showed that had the Knesset elections taken place today, Livni would have led Kadima to victory with 29 Knesset seats, the same number of mandates it currently has.

 

The race, however, is very close, as the Likud headed by Opposition Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu follows with 26 Knesset seats, compared to only 12 seats in the previous elections.

 

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The Labor Party headed by Defense Minister Ehud Barak plummets to only 11 Knesset seats, compared to the 19 it has today.

 

The survey was held Sunday among 500 people who constitute a representative sample of Israel's adult population. The poll has a margin of error of 4.5%.

 

Even before she was elected to lead Kadima, polls showed that Livni was the only candidate in her party capable of beating Netanyahu.

 

It appears that Shas may regret the fact that it chose to reject Livni's offers in the coalition talks. According to the new survey, the haredi party drops to 11 Knesset seats (compared to the 12 it has today). In such a situation, its bargaining power will weaken.

 

The Pensioners Party, which has seven Knesset members today, may not even pass the threshold needed to enter the Israeli parliament, with only two seats according to the new poll. The Green Party is in a similar situation.

 

Meretz grows stronger, from five seats it has today to six it receives in the poll. United Torah Judaism receives seven seats – one mandate more than it has today.

 

According to the poll, Yisrael Beiteinu headed by Knesset Member Avigdor Lieberman will drop to nine Knesset seats from the 11 it has today. The Arab parties will remain with 10 Knesset members, while National Union-National Religious Party loses two seats – from the nine it has today to seven in the survey.

 

Preparing for elections

Israel's political parties have already begun to prepare for a probable nationwide election, after Kadima Chairwoman Livni informed President Shimon Peres on Sunday that she had been unsuccessful in forming a new coalition government.

 

Following her interview with the president, Livni gave a short public speech. "I was prepared to pay a price for the formation of a new government, but up until the last minute I was not prepared to risk Israel's financial and political future," she said, hinting at Shas' demands, which Kadima claims were excessive.

 

She added, "I made the decision to cooperate with certain partners because I believe that compromise is necessary in such a polarized country. I decided to grant needy families financial assistance because I believe the government is responsible for supplying social needs when they are not narrow, sectarian needs."

 

"I believe a prime minister is chosen first and foremost in order to promote the interests of the state, and anyone who is willing to auction off his ideals for a seat is not worthy of sitting in it," she concluded.

 

Following the interview with Peres, Kadima announced that it would propose a bill shortening the waiting period for the elections.

 

MK Yoel Hasson has declared he will initiate the bill, calling for the holding of a general election within 90 days of the bill's proposal, rather than 111, which could be the case if the Knesset does not dissolve itself immediately.

 

The Labor Party has yet to decide on how it will determine its list of Knesset members ahead of the vote. Chairman Ehud Barak has expressed interest in securing a number of newcomers with a high ranking spot that would guarantee them a place in the next Knesset, and therefore may opt for canceling the party primaries and formulating the roster with the help of a special committee.

 

Senior Labor party officials are divided on the issue, and Barak is expected to face stiff opposition should he call to annul the primary elections.

 

Likud Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu has also begun consultations on preparing the party for the general elections, with senior officials postulating that the party primaries will be held in December.

 

Netanyahu is also in favor of securing several high ranking spots for MKs of his choice on the party's Knesset roster, but most party members would likely oppose such a move.

 

Netanyahu is reportedly interested in recruiting a number of senior public figures ahead of the elections, including former IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Yaalon and former Likud minister Dan Meridor.

 

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