Poll finds Liberman indictment had negligible impact

Smith Research poll sees Likud-Beytenu at 36 seats; Bayit Yehudi, Shas make gains; Labor holds steady at 19; Yesh Atid rises to 11.

December 20, 2012 19:56
2 minute read.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman

Liberman in front of star of david 370. (photo credit: REUTERS/Mary Calvert)


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Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein’s decision to indict former foreign minister Avigdor Liberman last Thursday on charges of fraud and breach of trust had almost no impact on how people intend to vote in the January 22 election, a Smith Research poll taken for Israel Radio found Thursday.

Less than two percent of Likud-Beytenu supporters said they had shifted their support to a different party due to the indictment, which has yet to be issued. One percent said they were now undecided, but they were balanced out by people who said they had decided to vote for Likud Beytenu due to the indictment.

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Some 10% of Bayit Yehudi voters said they had changed their allegiance to the party after originally intending to vote Likud or Yisrael Beytenu. Support has shifted to Bayit Yehudi since the election of Naftali Bennett and the decision of Likud and Yisrael Beytenu to run together.

The Smith poll found that Likud Beytenu went down from 39 seats last week to 36. Both Bayit Yehudi and Shas gained at Likud Beytenu’s expense, rising to 11 seats each. Labor held steady at 19, Yesh Atid rose two seats from nine to 11, The Tzipi Livni Party stayed at nine, United Torah Judaism was at six, Meretz and Hadash were at four each, and Am Shalem, United Arab List-Ta’al and Balad were all at three.

In an attempt to win back seats from Bayit Yehudi and Shas, the Likud will begin an advertising campaign in religious Zionist publications this Shabbat under the slogan “Religious Zionists vote Likud Beytenu.” The ads attack other parties, saying that only the “sectarian-religious” vote Bayit Yehudi, the “haredi-religious” vote Shas, and “leftist-religious” vote for The Tzipi Livni Party, which includes religious Zionist candidate Elazar Stern.

The ads say that the religious Zionist public is now part of the national leadership in the ruling party, a central message delivered for years by Likud activist Moshe Feiglin, who is now a Likud Knesset candidate and was part of the Likud task force that wrote the ad.

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The Likud revealed ads Wednesday that emphasize the leadership of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and the need to strengthen the ruling party. The party released a video that mocked the leaders of centrists and leftist parties, and their ability to handle the Iranian nuclear threat. Likud officials said Iran would return to center stage in future Likud ads, which would emphasize that Netanyahu was the only leader who could handle the threat.

Likud officials denied reports that Netanyahu had decided that he did not want to include Bayit Yehudi in his coalition, assuming he wins the January 22 election. The reports said Netanyahu had ruled out Bayit Yehudi because of candidates on the list that he saw as too extreme, such as Hebron activist Orit Struck.

“[Netanyahu] has to wait for the results of the election before he decides what coalition to build,” a Likud official said. “He doesn’t know how many seats each party will get. He has different possibilities in his head. But Bennett is not a fanatic psychopath, and he will keep his party in line.”

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