Friday, July 1, 2011

New Wave poll: Coalition stable, Netanyahu gaining strength

(ati Tuchfeld-IsraelHayom).The political establishment has not experienced an era like this in quite some time. After the never-ending storms that have characterized recent governments -- and that often worsened after their first two years in power -- the Netanyahu government is characterized mostly by calm: political calm, diplomatic calm and calm in national security.

A foreigner following our lead stories in newspapers or on television might think that he or she has mistakenly ended up in Switzerland or New Zealand. The Knesset's summer session ends in a few weeks, and the political establishment is operating on the assumption that elections are a distant rumor, as unlikely to be seen as a rainbow or the Northern Lights. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu can rest easy.

A poll conducted by Israel Hayom with the New Wave Research company might explain why no political party is rushing toward elections now.

According to the poll, if elections were held today, there would be almost no change in the current political map. Netanyahu would still be prime minister, and Likud would be the largest party in the Knesset, with 31 seats. The Kadima party would retain its current numbers, while the rest of the changes would be minor.

The poll shows that the rightist-ultra-Orthodox bloc would grow slightly stronger to hold 67 seats, up from its current 65.

The poll's findings also show another phenomenon: public apathy. Thirty-seven percent of those polled still had not decided for which party they would vote. This is a lot of undecided votes. But it is understandable: With elections so far away, why rush to decide?

While Kadima head Tzipi Livni is steadily growing weaker,Number 2 Mofaz is gaining strength, to the point where the prime minister's advisers and the candidates for both the Labor and the Atzmaut leadership positions are working on the assumption that he will win the primaries for Kadima's chairmanship.

But the poll shows that Mofaz -- chairman of the Knesset’s Foreign Relations and Defense Committee -- still has some way to go to win over the general public. Asked to choose between Netanyahu and Livni for the prime minister’s job, 40 percent of those surveyed preferred Netanyahu, while only 28 percent said that Livni would be better (and 31 percent were undecided on this question).

However, when the choice was between Netanyahu and Mofaz, 43 percent of respondents chose Netanyahu while only 15 percent backed Mofaz.