Poll: Yesh Atid to be largest party; gain for Bayit Yehudi

Results show Lapid’s party could replace Likud at top.

Bayit Yehudi MKs
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu could have a tough time forming the next government, according to a poll taken for Channel 2, whose results were broadcast Friday.
Pollster Mina Tzemach’s survey predicted Yesh Atid would be the largest party, with 26 seats. The poll gave the Likud 22, the Joint List 13, the Zionist Union and Bayit Yehudi 11, Yisrael Beytenu, United Torah Judaism and Kulanu 7; Shas and Meretz both six and a new party being formed by former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon four.
The parties in the current coalition total 60 MKs in the poll, which would mean Netanyahu would either have to draft the support of Ya’alon or the Zionist Union. Netanyahu has formed a government with the parties that make up the Zionist Union in the past and has negotiated with leader Isaac Herzog about joining the current government.
As the leader of the largest party, Yesh Atid’s Yair Lapid could be asked by President Reuven Rivlin to form a government in such a scenario. He, too, would have a difficult task, because the Likud, Bayit Yehudi, Shas and United Torah Judaism would not join his government and he would not form a government with the Joint List. Without those parties, he could form a razor-thin majority with the Zionist Union, Yisrael Beytenu, Kulanu, Meretz, and Ya’alon’s party.
In a separate poll that was broadcast Friday on Israel Radio, Bayit Yehudi gained two Knesset seats at the expense of the Likud. In the poll taken by Smith Research, the gain could be explained by the focus the public, diplomatic and political debate has recently placed on the settlement issue, as well as the criminal investigations of Netanyahu that have tainted the Likud.
If an election were held now, the Likud would fall from its current 30 mandates and the 28 predicted in the last Smith poll in December to 26, the survey conducted for Israel Radio found. Bayit Yehudi, which has eight seats in the current Knesset, already rose to 11 in the December poll and is now predicted to win 13.
Bayit Yehudi officials expressed satisfaction with the poll, which would give chairman Naftali Bennett a boost in the movement’s April 27 leadership race, which began on Thursday night, when the party’s institutions approved advancing the vote.
Other parties on the Right remained consistent, with Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu, Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon’s Kulanu, Interior Minister Arye Deri’s Shas, and Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman’s United Torah Judaism all remaining at seven mandates.
In the Center, former finance minister Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid has remained at 22 seats since December, twice as many as the 11 the party has in the current Knesset.
Opposition leader Isaac Herzog’s Zionist Union continued to plunge in the polls, falling to 12 seats, down from 13 in December and 24 in the March 2015 election. Surveys by most other pollsters find that the situation for the Zionist Union is even worse, putting the party in the single digits.
MK Ayman Odeh’s Joint List would win 13 seats, as it has today, up from 12 in the December poll. MK Zehava Gal- On’s Meretz would win six seats, one more than it won in the last election.
According to another poll, former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon’s new party would win six seats, the Likud 25, Yesh Atid 20, Bayit Yehudi and the Joint List both 13, the Zionist Union 11, Yisrael Beytenu, United Torah Judaism and Shas seven each, Kulanu six and Meretz five.
Meretz chairman Gal-On announced on Saturday that she would advance the leadership primary in her party and run for reelection to the post in an open primary.