Friday, August 5, 2011

Polls: Netanyahu viewed as most qualified to lead; Kadima party has been hardest hit by wave of protests

(Israelhayom). While much of the antagonism expressed in recent weeks by protesters demanding lower housing costs has been directed at the government, a number of polls conducted recently have shown that Kadima, the largest opposition party, would bear the brunt of voters' dissatisfaction were elections held today.

The polls reveal that the number of undecided voters stands at a record high, pointing to the general disappointment people feel in the political parties for which they voted in the country's last election. These polling data make it difficult for analysts to accurately project the Knesset makeup in the next election.

One poll conducted by the Sarid Institute for Channel 2 news shows that 39 Knesset seats, a record high, would be up for grabs if elections were held today. According to the poll, Kadima would win 14 seats (down from its current 28), while Likud would win 22 seats (down from 27), Labor would win 11 (up from 10), and Meretz would win four (up from three).

The poll, conducted at the beginning of the week, suggests Kadima has been the hardest-hit by the wave of protests, and that it would dwindle to half its current size.It differs from other polls in that it refers to undecided voters, while others polls make no mention of them.

Another poll conducted this week by the Likud party also showed that Kadima has significantly lost strength since the protests erupted on July 14. This poll also showed that if elections were held today, Kadima would drop to 22 mandates from its current 28, while Likud would win 32 mandates (a rise of five seats), Labor would see its number of seats increase by one to 11, Meretz would rise to six (from three) and coalition partner Yisrael Beitenu would garner 16 seats (up from its current 15).

The Likud poll also asked respondents who could do a better job leading the country, with more than half of respondents (54.2%) saying Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is the most qualified to be at the helm. Slightly more than a fifth (20.8%) said there is a better alternative to the prime minister, with 24.9% having no opinion. Perhaps this can explain the Likud's rise in the polls as of late, against the backdrop of the wave of protests.

The polls reveal a trend of Kadima voters returning to the parties on the left that they have traditionally voted for, such as Labor and Meretz. Both of these parties would register significant increases in their mandates compared with their current proportion of the Knesset. Despite the public's discontent over policies of current or past governments, overwhelming numbers believe that Netanyahu is the one best prepared to handle the current situation and lead the country toward meaningful economic change.