Small parties unhappy with polls

By HILARY LEILA KRIEGER
March 19, 2006 22:48

Besides Green Leaf, no party outside the Knesset will pass the voting threshold.

3 minute read.



elections06.article.298

elections06.article.298. (photo credit: )

The polls have fluctuated throughout the election season, but they have been consistent on one point: With the exception of the Green Leaf Party, no party currently outside the Knesset has a shot of passing the voting threshold. Parties need 2 percent of the vote, estimated at 70,000 ballots, to make it into the next Knesset, a number which puts parties such as Tafnit, Hetz, Herut, and the Pensioners' Party out of contention, according to the polls. But that doesn't mean those parties intend to take themselves out of the race.

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Part of their campaign strategy, it seems, has been to come up with reasons why the polls are misleading and why they will succeed in the end. One popular explanation has been the undecided vote - some 15% to 25% of the population, depending on how it's calculated - which small parties are counting on to boost their final tallies. Mark Luria, a Tafnit candidate and the head of the party's Anglo campaign, explained that when pollsters try to sort out how to calculate the vote given the large number of undecided voters, they ask people which parties they are deciding between and which party they voted for last time. If one of the parties they are considering matches the party they voted for last time, their votes are counted for that party. That hurts a party like Tafnit, which is making its electoral debut. "Because we're a new party, everyone has voted for another party before," Luria noted. He also said that Tafnit has strong support among young people whose votes tend not to show up in polls because those doing the polling often speak to the heads of household rather than their children. A candidate for Atid Echad - another new party and the first to be headed by an Ethiopian immigrant - also pointed to flawed polling as the reason the party hasn't been shown passing the threshold. "The polls ask 500 random Israelis and there will only be a handful of Ethiopians in each group. Our base of Ethiopian Israelis is hot and we expect to pull 90% of their votes, slightly shy of reaching the [threshold]," said Yossi Abramowitz, No. 3 on the party's list. He added that the party anticipated getting the remaining 10,000 votes it needed from non-Ethiopian Israelis pleased with Atid Echad's aliya and education platform. He called it the "feel good" vote among a public otherwise turned off by the main parties in the race. Like Tafnit, Hetz also said that its status as a new party meant it was slow to pick up steam in the polls. "We've been in a campaign for just one month and it takes a little while to get started," said Tibi Rabinovici, aide to Hetz number one and former interior minister Avraham Poraz. The faction broke off from Shinui after Poraz didn't win reelection to the No. 2 slot in that party. Rabinovici referred to internal polls putting Hetz at only half a percentage point below the threshold, but said that party members were confident that ground would be made up as secular voters came to understand that the centrist Kadima could sit in a coalition with Shas. "We're not worried," he said, adding that the party had no intention of dropping out of the race and had not been pressured to do so. Luria also said that Tafnit hadn't been pressured to close up shop, but described attacks on the party as a sign that other candidates perceived it as a serious threat. He pointed to Omri Sharon's decision to break his silence to refute charges made by party head Uzi Dayan. "Clearly Kadima and other parties are feeling the pressure," he said, suggesting that their competitors' polls must be picking up what the media's surveys aren't: A sizable number of Israelis intend to vote Tafnit.


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