Poll shows Likud in sharp decline to 26 seats

Netanyahu corruption allegations blamed; two years after elections, Livni gets top rating among ministers.

netanyahu bibi 224 88 (photo credit: )
netanyahu bibi 224 88
(photo credit: )
The Likud has fallen by eight seats to only 26 and the Right has nearly lost its majority in the Knesset, according to a Shvakim Panorama poll broadcast Thursday on Israel Radio. The poll found that if elections were held now, the Likud would lead with 26 mandates, followed by Labor (19), Kadima (16), Shas and Israel Beiteinu (both 11), Arab parties (10), the National Union-National Religious Party (8), United Torah Judaism and Meretz (both 6), the Green Party (4) and Arkadi Gaydamak's Social Justice Party (3). Together, the Rightist bloc of Likud, Shas, Israel Beiteinu, the National Union-National Religious Party and United Torah Judaism have fallen to a razor-thin majority of 62 after reaching close to 70 in most polls conducted since the Second Lebanon War. Pollster Yossi Vadana, who conducted the poll of a representative sample of 508 people, told the station that the Likud fell from 34 seats it received in a poll he conducted before the recent scandals over the trips abroad of party chairman Binyamin Netanyahu. A Likud official said he was not concerned about the poll. He said the results were not surprising after two weeks of bad press. "A temporary downfall was expected," the official said. "The Likud still holds a large lead, and I'm sure the poll results will go back up soon. After so many frontal attacks on us, we should be crashing, but we are not." But a Likud MK said he was worried and that his party's leaders needed to learn immediate lessons to prevent future headlines that could result in the Likud falling even further in the polls. "We have to worry because we are talking about future of the state," said the MK, who is on good terms with Netanyahu. "The public thinks that Bibi is corrupt, but he is not a criminal. We have to know that this can damage us." Meretz MK Zehava Gal-On said she was overjoyed by the poll, which she said was part of a pattern that she believed would lead to a left-wing government being formed after the next elections. Meanwhile, another poll taken by Panels Ltd. for the Knesset Channel found that Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni received the highest grades for her performance out of all 22 ministers and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert the lowest. The poll of 564 people had a 4.3 percent margin of error. The other ministers who scored well were Communications Minister Ariel Atias, Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter and Social Welfare Minister Isaac Herzog. The other ministers who fared poorly were Ministers-without-Portfolio Meshulam Nahari and Ruhama Avraham and Israel's first Arab minister, Ghaleb Majadleh. The poll was taken to mark Friday's two-year anniversary of the 2006 general election.