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Poll: 'Social' party could win 20 seats in elections today
By GIL HOFFMAN
02/08/2011
Political force capitalizing on tent-city sentiment would steal mandates from major parties, early election seen as unlikely.
 
A new socioeconomic party led by the current leaders of the housing protests could win as many as 20 seats if elections were held now, a Smith Research poll taken for The Jerusalem Post and the economic newspaper Globes found.

The poll of 500 adults, representing a sample of the population, was conducted by telephone on Monday and had a 4.5 percent margin of error.

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When only the parties currently represented in the Knesset were given as choices, the results were similar to the makeup of the current Knesset – except that Likud would win one more mandate than Kadima, rather than Kadima’s present one-seat advantage.

But when a new socioeconomic party was included as a choice, the new party captured seats from Kadima, Likud, Labor and Meretz, as well as floating voters.

The new party did not take mandates away from Arab, religious or right-wing parties, whose supporters have not endorsed the protests.

The organizers of the protests have claimed from the beginning that they were not political; but several parties have joined the demonstrations and provided signs, and even tents.

Roee Neuman, a spokesman for the protest movement, said the protest was non-partisan and that its leaders have no intention of becoming a political party or running for office, but that nonetheless, the results “show the widespread support our movement has across all sectors of Israeli society.”

Former Shas leader Arye Deri and journalist Yair Lapid are said to be mulling the creation of socioeconomic parties ahead of the next election, and Labor is expected to move in that direction, following its September 12 primary.

Asked whether the next election will be advanced from its current date of October 22, 2013 due to the protests and the expected United Nations General Assembly vote on a Palestinian state next month, 50% said no, 29% said yes and 21% did not have an opinion.

Among Likud voters, 60% said the election would be held on time, while 25% believed otherwise.

Even in Kadima the majority of those who expressed an opinion said the election would be held on time.

When asked about their economic views, 47% said they wanted more governmental intervention in the economy and personal welfare, while 37% preferred to let market forces take their course with minimal governmental intervention. Meanwhile, 16% did not express an opinion.

The poll also provided insight into the public’s attitudes toward the tent protest movement and how it feels the protesters should go about achieving their goals.

Forty-five percent said the protesters should negotiate with the government to try to obtain their demands, 29% said the demonstrations should go on in their current format, and 9% said the protesters should become more political, try to bring down the government and run for the next Knesset. Seventeen percent did not express an opinion, or offered an opinion not on the list.

A majority of Likud voters said the protesters should compromise, and a plurality of Kadima voters said the demonstrators should keep on protesting.

Ben Hartman and Michael Omer-man contributed to this report.
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