Barak sees 2008 ballot

Ehud Barak predicted that general elections would take place in Israel next year.

Barak, a former prime minister who is now serving as defense minister, on Tuesday echoed the prevalent  view of Israelis that public rancor over the Lebanon war and a slew of graft scandals will trigger an early ballot, possibly within months.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has vowed to keep his coalition government intact until the next scheduled elections in 2010. Barak’s Labor Party is a junior partner in the coalition.

“I am among those who believe that next year there will be elections,” senior Labor colleagues quoted Barak as telling them. “There is an extraordinary opportunity for the Labor Party. With the proper organization, together we can ensure we lead the next Israeli government.”

Opinion polls suggest that were Israeli elections held today, the right-wing Likud Party under former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would win.

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