New Poll Spells More Trouble for Ailing Shas, Tighter Race for Netanyahu

YERUSHALAYIM -
The Knesset building in Yerushalayim. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

A new poll by Walla news spells more trouble for Shas – and indicates that if elections were held today, the Sephardic chareidi party would not be represented in the next Knesset. Shas would get three seats according to the poll – but according to current election rules, a party needs a minimum of four seats in order to be represented in the Knesset. The votes cast for Shas would thus be “wasted,” as they would not be translated into Knesset representation.

This is the fourth poll in recent months that shows Shas hovering just above or falling below the election threshold. Party officials quoted on Kol Chai radio have said that the polls are not accurate, as many polls, such as the current one conducted by the Camilla Fuchs organization, rely on Internet questionnaires to gather data, and many Shas voters do not have internet connections at home.

According to pollsters, including Fuchs, pollsters account for that situation, and despite a lack of internet connections, the numbers are accurate. Fuchs noted that it was likely that just as many voters for United Torah Jewry did not have internet connections at home, but UTJ, according to the latest poll, would get eight seats in a new Knesset, consistent with results from recent polls.

The poll also spells trouble for Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. Although 31 percent of Israelis see him as the best choice for prime minister – more than double the next runner-up, Yair Lapid, who scored only 14 percent, and far ahead of Zionist Camp leader Avi Gabay, who scored just 7 percent – the Likud could find itself squeezed out of a future coalition. The poll has the Likud at 27 seats, the largest party in the Knesset, although with three fewer seats than it has now. Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid comes in second, with 21 seats, and Zionist Camp follows closely with 19.

However, the poll also asked a theoretical question about how voters would feel about an expanded Yesh Atid list that would include Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon and former IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi – and if that party were to run, it would get 33 seats, while the Likud would get only 26. In that scenario, Zionist Camp would get 17 seats, Meretz would get seven (the same number it would get in a scenario in which Lapid and Kahlon run separately), meaning that the center-left coalition could count on 57 votes, and Lapid would be given the first opportunity to form a government, instead of Netanyahu.

However, Lapid’s only move would appear to be including the United Arab List, with its 11 seats – something he has declared he would never do – or include UTJ, which would be as unlikely to join a Lapid-led government as Meretz would be to accept UTJ’s religious-oriented platform.

Jewish Home, which would get nine seats in an expanded Yesh Atid scenario (and ten if Kahlon and Lapid run separately) and Yisrael Beytenu, which would get seven in either scenario, would be unlikely to join such a government anyway.

With that, both Kahlon and Lapid deny that they are even considering running together, and Ashkenazi has not made any announcements about entering politics. Pollsters said that he would be just as likely to join Zionist Camp as Yesh Atid.