Thursday, June 30, 2011

Poll: New Players jump in, can shift power from Right to left

(Lilach Weissman-Globes).The fear in the prime minister's bureau at the prospect that Yair Lapid and Aryeh Deri might stand in the next elections is apparently justified. If television presenter Lapid, son of the late Shinui party leader Yosef Lapid, and/or former Shas leader Deri decide to make a move into politics, the structure of right-wing and left-wing blocks in Israel will become much more fluid.

According to a poll by Rafi Smith for "Globes", if elections were held today with the existing party structure, Likud would strengthen to 29 Knesset seats, and the right-wing block would have 69 seats, taking Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to another term. However, if Deri and Lapid each decide to stand at the head of an independent party, Likud will lose seven seats and shrink to 22, and the right-wing block will fall to 56 seats. If that happened, Netanyahu would not be able to form a right-wing coalition, or indeed any coalition at all.

The entry of the two new players would hit everyone. Kadima would lose seven seats and fall to 20; Shas would lose four seats, cutting it to six; while Labor would also lose two seats to Lapid and fall to seven.

In this scenario, Kadima is weakened, shrinking by nearly a quarter, but its chances of forming the next coalition actually rise, If Kadima, with 20 seats, teams up with Lapid (projected to win 16 seats), Deri (projected to win eight seats) and Labor (seven seats), and brings in Meretz (three seats) as well, it can block Netanyahu, which could make Tzipi Livni prime minister, or lead to a national unity government with rotation for the premiership.

The two new players can help Livni block Netanyahu, but will not win enough seats to form a coalition. Things could turn dramatic though if Minister of Foreign Affairs Avigdor Liberman decides to outflank Netanyahu and take his Yisrael Beiteinu party to join Livni's block.