State of the Race: The Right Remains Ahead
Out of Israel, new polls showing the state of the race remains… well, largely the same as it did when news of an election in January emerged. Polls from all the major news sources indicate that Likud is set to return to the Knesset as the largest party, with the data is averaged out 28 seats, with Labor as the opposition party on 20 seats.
This would give the right, or the national-religious bloc (as I have called it for the purpose of this exercise) a good majority, provided all the national, religious, Orthodox, and ultra-Orthodox or Haredi parties coalesce — easier said than done.
Netanyahu is unlikely to be able to draw on Ehud Barak in the next government, his Atzma’ut party all but extinct. It is possible that he could remain Defence Minister, though if recent reports are to be believed, their personal relationship is severely strained. Without a bloc of seats, Netanyahu may come to see Barak as useless to him. Kadima, if it remains in its current shape, remains a viable partner for Likud and could fill the void left by the demise of Barak.
If there is hope for the left, it is that both Labor and Yesh Atid are doing well in the polls. Moreover, recent polling data also indicates that a centre-left super party — led by Ehud Olmert, partnered with Tzipi Livni and Yair Lapid, leader of Yesh Atid — would become the largest party in the Knesset if an election were held tomorrow, surpassing Likud. Lapid has appeared to have ruled this out, but with Olmert and Livni having formed a kind of pact not to run against each other, expect to see some movement in the coming days and weeks.