Polls Show Labor Leading Likud 2 Weeks Before Election Day

With election day only 15 days away, Likud continues to trail the Labor Alignment by a significant margin in most public opinion polls. The latest, published Friday in Yediot Achronot, showed Labor winning 53 Knesset seats to 38 for Likud while the number of “undecided” voters has dropped from 34 percent in the third week of June to 28 percent now.

Likud politicians profess to be undaunted and claim that their own surverys show the gap narrowing. This could mean that even if Likud fails to catch up with Labor during the next two weeks, it will poll sufficient votes to prevent the Alignment from forming a government . The Laborites are not free from worries. As front runners, they sense the danger of complacency and are warning their supporters against taking the outcome for granted. Labor Party leaders are stressing moreover that they need a much higher plurality than the 15 seats indicated now in order to form a stable government.

Labor would like to be able to establish a new government without the need for a coalition with the religious parties, or at least without the more militant ones. Labor’s potential partners on the left, such as Shinul and the Citizens Rights Movement may balk at joining a government which includes the Aguda Israel.

LABOR NEEDS BIG WIN

Labor analysts say that anything below 50 percent of the vote would seriously impair Labor’s ability to form any government inasmuch as the religious and rightwing factions would almost certainly continue their alliance with Likud. A 56-57 percent margin, by the same taken, would put Labor in a comfortable position to form a Cabinet to its liking.

As the July 23 election date approaches, the campaign has heated up and there has been considerable mudslinging by both sides in their nightly television electioneering.

Labor ran a film in which two moshav farmers accuse Likud of ruining the country’s agriculture. A Likud film featured a woman from the border town of kiryat Shemona describing the constant shelling until the Likud government ordered the invasion of Lebanon two years ago.

The woman, Shoshana Peretz, claimed she was fired from her teaching job because she appeared in the Likud film. Labor produced a letter of dismissal dated May 1, long before her appearance, to discredit that charge. These are picayune matters, hardly related to election issues. Labor’s campaign manager, Mordechai Gur, called on his Likud counterpart, David Levy and on Supreme Court Justice Gavriel Bach, chairman of the Central Elections Committee, for a meeting to “stop the deterioration of the campaign.”

The three were scheduled to get together today to reach a new agreement for ” clean electioneering.” Both sides had already agreed to avoid personal insults but this often has been honored in the breach and Bach has been forced to delete portions of campaign films.

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