TEL AVIV - About 61 percent of Likud voters feel Ariel Sharon is the best possible leader for Israel, with 77 percent saying he is their pick for the party's leadership, a survey by pollster Mina Tzemach has found.
However, 46 percent say they believe the Sharon family is corrupt to the core.
The results were published in Yediot Ahronot Friday following the Likud Central Committee convention on Thursday, where Sharon suffered the latest in a string of defeats by his own party. The results point to a growing par between the Likud Central Committee and the party's voting public.
Despite the whistles and boos that greeted Sharon Thursday at the Central Committee meeting, 77 percent of Likud voters say they prefer Sharon as prime minister, as opposed to 17 percent who would say they would support Finance Minister (and former Prime Minister) Benjamin Netanyahu to lead the party.
To the question “Do you trust Sharon to successfully lead the country?” 64 percent answered positively.
Sharon’s marks are even higher when asked about his record as prime minister: 66 percent say his tenure has been “good” or “very good”.
33 percent of those polled say their opinion of Sharon has improved since he assumed power four years ago; 29 percent say their opinion has changed for the worse. Amongst Likud supporters, just 21 percent feel more positively about Sharon now, whilst 34 percent feel more negatively than they did in 2000.
Surprisingly, Sharon received high marks with regard to domestic security. Despite more than 1,000 terrorist deaths since taking office, 56 percent say they are satisfied with Sharon’s performance in this area.
While sections of the Likud-voting public continue to demand a national referendum on the disengagement plan, 66 percent of those asked say they would vote in favor of the withdrawal should such a vote take place.
Meanwhile, just 26 percent say they would vote against the planned withdrawal.