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Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski would handily defeat three prominent secular opponents if an election were held now - even though more than half the public is dissatisfied with his performance - according to a poll released over the weekend.
Municipal elections are scheduled for November 2008.
Lupolianski received 48 percent support in the survey, compared to 17% for Jerusalem opposition leader Nir Barkat, 15% for Russian-born tycoon Arkadi Gaydamak and 14% for former Jerusalem police chief Mickey Levy. The poll was conducted by the Jerusalem weekly Yerushalayim.
Lupolianski would easily defeat Gaydamak in a one-on-one race - 61% to 29% - and trounce Levy 62% to 27%, the poll found.
More than half of city residents were dissatisfied with the performance of Jerusalem's first haredi mayor; 51% of respondents were not satisfied with Lupolianski's performance, compared to 47% who were satisfied.
The poll indicated that Lupolianski would be assured victory if he squared off against multiple secular candidates, and that he would also win against two potential secular candidates in a one-on-one race.
In a largely traditional city where one-third of the voters are haredi, the poll showed that even if there were only one secular candidate in the race, he would only garner 46% of the vote.
In the last election in 2003, Barkat received 43% of the vote.
Lupolianski has not announced whether he will run for a second term, but political analysts expect him to do so since he is the most popular of the potential haredi candidates.
Lupolianski's reelection bid now rests with the rabbis of his party - United Torah Judaism - who must decide whether the Degel Hatorah member should run again, or whether to rotate with an alternate haredi candidate from the party's other faction, Agudat Yisrael.
Jerusalem opposition leader Nir Barkat is the only person who has publicly declared his candidacy, although the enigmatic Gaydamak, piqued at Lupolianski for nixing an annual Russian veterans march to City Hall, is also reported to have decided to run. Such a decision, however, is thought to be tentative at best.
The poll results represent a blow for Barkat, who has served as opposition leader in the city for three and half years.
The poll also found that 28% of respondents listed poverty as the city's greatest problem, while 23% cited dirt and neglect. Tied for third were the education system, and polarization between secular and haredi Jews, as well as between Jews and Arabs, at 15% each.
The Dahaf Institute poll, in which 400 participants were questioned last week, did not cite a margin of error.