Netanyahu maintains comfortable lead in pre-election polls


(JTA) — Three Israeli election polls predicted a comfortable victory for Israel’s Likud Beiteinu party in upcoming elections. 

A Ma’agar Mohot survey published in Maariv has the list led by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu clinching 38 seats, followed by Shelly Yacimovich’s Labor with 16 seats and Naftali Bennett’s nationalist Jewish Home party with 13.

Last month, Netanyahu joined his Likud Party to Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beitenu to unite in a right-wing list for the Jan. 22 elections. 

The Sephardic Orthodox Shas party received 12 seats in the poll; the secularist Yesh Atid party, led by Yair Lapid, garnered eight seats; and Tzipi Livni’s Hatnua party got seven. The poll was based on replies delivered Tuesday by 1,000 voters.

In the poll, the center-right bloc had 52 seats, not including Shas, which many view as a rightist movement though it has joined both left-wing and right-wing coalitions. The center-left bloc had 39 seats including the party of  Lapid, who, unlike Yachimovich and Livni, has not excluded the possibility of joining a Likud-led coalition.

The three Arab parties got a combined electoral strength of 10 seats in the poll.  Arab parties, while not seen as part of the center-left bloc, have supported center-left governments from outside the government.

A poll published in Yedioth Achronot based on the replies of 1,000 respondents and conducted by the Dahaf polling company predicted 33 seats for Likud Beiteinu; 18 seats for Labor; 14 seats for Jewish Home; 11 seats for Yesh Atid and 10 seats for Shas. In the Dahaf poll, the center-right bloc has 49 seats compared to the center-left’s 45 seats.

A Smith Research poll published by The Jerusalem Post has Likud Beiteinu leading with 34 seats; Labor with 18 seats; Jewish Home with 14; Yesh Atid and Shas with 10 seats each; and Livni’s party with eight.

The poll surveyed 870 people representing a statistical sample of the adult population and had an error margin of 3.3 percentage points, compared to 4.5 points in the other two polls.

Kadima clinched two seats in all three polls. It received 28 seats in the 2009 elections. 

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