With polls predicting a marked drop in the number of Knesset seats that the Likud
is slated to get in the upcoming elections, officials in the ruling party have expressed concern about the difficulties they might face next term.
A Channel 10 poll released on Wednesday evening indicated that the Likud and Yisrael Beiteinu's
joint Knesset list is to win a total of 32 mandates – ten less than they held in the current term.
Officials in the Likud lament that the merger is failing to deliver. An internal survey conducted recently by campaign advisor Arthur Finkelstein has forecast 37 Knesset seats for the Likud-Beiteinu, and while that number is higher than what the news networks have been predicting, it is a far cry from the 45 mandates the American strategist promised only a few months ago.
Top Likud politicians who are not involved in the management of the election campaign have decried that the public relations effort was not befitting of a party with the Likud-Beiteinu's stature.
"Somebody is operating under the assumption that this is going to be an easy win, so he decided that there is no need to work hard," one official said.
Another official added that due to this smug attitude, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
has forsaken the campaign, opting to attend to his state duties instead of making stump speeches.
In the few days left before the Jan. 22 elections, the Likud-Beiteinu is expected to go on a media blitz meant to consolidate its message. Netanyahu is scheduled to arrive at the Likud's campaign headquarters on Thursday afternoon to personally meet undecided voters.
But the last-minute effort might be too late. If the forecasts materialize, the officials say, Netanyahu could find himself facing a depleted coalition that would make him vulnerable to pressure.
The polls indicate that the entire rightist bloc, which includes the Likud-Beiteinu, Habayit Hayehudi, the ultra-Orthodox parties and Otzma Leyisrael are to receive 64 Knesset seats next Tuesday. Considering that Netanyahu is highly unlikely to let the far-right Otzma Leyisrael into his government, the future coalition would only have 62 mandates.
"If (Yair) Lapid and (Tzipi) Livni don't join the government, we will find ourselves with a problematic coalition that is open to extortion," one Likud official said. "Netanyahu won't be able to dictate the terms."