Likudniks Bristle at Poll Showing Their Party Lagging Behind Labor

In what may be a classic case of blaming the messenger, Likud activists were reported to be furious with Dr. Mina Tsemach, a leading pollster, for publishing an opinion poll over the weekend showing Likud lagging behind the Labor Party little more than a month before Knesset elections.

Tsemach was commissioned by Likud to conduct periodic surveys of the electorate during the campaign. But the poll she published Friday in Yediot Achronot was commissioned by the newspaper, the leading daily in the country.

It showed that if the elections were held now, Labor would win 46 Knesset seats to Likud’s 31. The respondents were from a representative sample of 506 voters.

Tsemach said the results were a continuation of a trend she detected early this year, showing Likud slipping relative to Labor.

But more important in terms of coalition-building after the June 23 elections, Friday’s poll showed Labor and the left-wing parties with a combined total of 63 of the Knesset’s 120 seats, a working, if precarious majority.

Labor and the leftist Meretz bloc, along with the Arab splinter parties, would be able to prevent Likud from forming a coalition government with the small parties of the extreme right and the religious bloc.

Labor’s goal in this election is said to be to achieve such a “blocking” ability in the hope that in that suituation one or more of the religious parties would swing over into a Labor-led coalition, or else that Likud would have to agree to a unity government under Labor leader Yitzhak Rabin.

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