Poll predicts Barkat to trounce Lion in Jerusalem election

42% support incumbent mayor, while only 14% back challenger; Netanyahu reportedly shuns Likud Beytenu candidate.

Moshe Lion 370 (photo credit: Courtesy Moshe Lion campaign)
Moshe Lion 370
(photo credit: Courtesy Moshe Lion campaign)
Incumbent Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat will easily defeat his Likud-Beytenu challenger, Moshe Lion, in the October 22 municipal election, according to a Ma’agar Mohot poll published Friday on the cover of the Ma’ariv newspaper.
The poll of 523 respondents representing a sample of the adult population in Jerusalem found that 42 percent support Barkat and 14% back Lion. The poll was taken Wednesday and Thursday and had a 4.5 percetage points margin of error.
A huge percentage of respondents, some 43%, declared themselves undecided two weeks before the election.
That number is thought to include a large percentage of haredim whose rabbis have not told them which candidate to support yet.
Lion’s primary supporter, Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman, expressed confidence that Lion would still win the race. In weekend interviews, he said there were 34,000 non-haredi Jerusalem residents who had made commitments to vote for Lion. Together with the overwhelming majority of haredi voters, that could be enough to win the race.
Channel 2 reported Saturday night that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu had sent letters of endorsement to all 43 Likud mayoral candidates in the municipal races, except Lion, who was director- general of the Prime Minister’s Office in Netanyahu’s first term. Netanyahu is considered close to Barkat, who recently named a junction on Jerusalem’s Menachem Begin highway for the prime minister’s late father, Prof. Benzion Netanyahu.
“I have no doubt that the prime minister will support me in the end,” Lion told Channel 2.
Barkat accused Liberman of threatening Netanyahu to try to get him to support Lion, a charge that both Liberman and Netanyahu’s office denied.
Lion got into trouble on Thursday when confronted with a quiz on Jerusalem trivia in an interview with the news portal Walla. The candidate, who moved to Jerusalem recently from Givatayim, was unaware that movie theaters operate in the capital on Shabbat, that a famed theater had closed 15 years ago, and that Mifgash Hasheikh is a popular bakery in Jerusalem’s Talpiot industrial zone.