Corruption captures headlines, month before poll, as usual

The polls a month before each election usually did not accurately predict the final results.

By GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN
February 28, 2006 02:52
2 minute read.
tzahi hanegbi 298.88

tzahi hanegbi 298.88. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)

A month before the March 28 election, most of the political headlines in the newspapers are about the alleged corruption of the candidates, including Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Minister-without-Portfolio Tzahi Hanegbi and Likud MK Nomi Blumenthal. The headlines a month before the last few elections were similar and the polls a month before each election usually did not accurately predict the final results. A month ahead of the January 28, 2003 election, the headlines were about the scandal of Blumenthal buying hotel rooms for Likud central committee members in Ramat Gan's City Tower Hotel and Labor MK Yuli Tamir misusing funds of the Peres Peace Center that she headed. The Tamir report was published by journalist Yoav Yitzhak, who first published the story in the headlines last week about State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss's investigation into the sale of Olmert's apartment. Just like Labor chairman Amir Peretz is working nowadays to unify the ranks of Labor, the headlines three years ago were about Labor candidate Amram Mitzna's efforts to unify the party despite the opposition of MK Binyamin Ben-Eliezer. The Jerusalem Post published a story about how the Likud was the only party that hadn't built an English-language Web site because Blumenthal was in charge of building the site. In this election too, the Likud is the only party that still lacks an English site. The Likud was ahead in the polls by 15 mandates but was gradually falling. The Likud hit rock bottom three weeks ahead of the election when a story broke about Prime Minister Ariel Sharon receiving an illegal loan from his friend Cyril Kern, but the party bounced back in the polls after Central Elections Committee chairman Mishael Cheshin pulled the plug on a press conference Sharon called to explain the loan. A month ahead of the May 17, 1999 election, the star of the corruption headlines was Shas leader Aryeh Deri, who was convicted of bribery and sentenced to four years in prison. Ehud Barak's One Israel Party led in the polls but not by as many mandates as the party ultimately won. In 1996, prime minister Shimon Peres signed an accord a month ahead of the May 29 election to end Operation Grapes of Wrath against Hizbullah in Lebanon. Likud chairman Binyamin Netanyahu accused Peres of sacrificing Israeli security for the election, using similar language to what he uses nowadays to attack Olmert. Peres led Netanyahu in the polls by a few percent. A few days ahead of the race, Peres guaranteed his victory on national television. Netanyahu's victory was not clear until all the votes were counted.


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