Labor Surges to 8 Seats in New Poll

YERUSHALAYIM -
A campaign poster showing Labor party leader Amir Peretz, who has since quit politics, at the entrance to Yerushalayim, July 17, 2019. He was replaced last week by Merav Michaeli. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

The Labor party has approximately doubled its support in recent days, following the election of a new leader, according to a Channel 13 poll aired Tuesday night.

Prior to Merav Michaeli’s accession to the chairmanship, Labor was getting 4-5 seats in the polls, and many were predicting the party’s demise, that it would not even clear the 3.2 percent threshold in March.

But Tuesday’s survey results showed Labor with 8 seats if elections were held now, while other small parties—Ron Huldai’s The Israelis, Ofer Shelah’s Tnufah, National Zionist party and Otzma Yehudit—were all headed for wipeout.

Michaeli, a diehard leftist, told the Associated Press in a telephone interview on Tuesday: “I believe that Labor is not dead, it is essential for Israel’s future.”

“The fact that I have managed to lift up Labor, it’s still early, but I think people have more faith that it’s possible,” she said.

Michaeli blamed the center-left’s decline to years of “incitement and delegitimization” by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and the right. But she said some mistakes were self-inflicted, like the party repeatedly joining right-wing governments whose values were contradictory to its own.

“They became enablers of right-wing governments and then it’s clear that the party loses its credibility and its ability to be an alternative and that must be rebuilt,” she told AP.

While Michaeli, 54, has no experience serving as a minister in any government, she wears the scars of many battles inside the Labor party over the years, which undoubtedly would qualify her for the rigors of ministerial life.

In the Channel 13 poll, Likud lost ground, dropping from 32 to 29 seats; Yesh Atid and New Hope got 16 seats each; Yamina and the Joint List both had 10; United Torah Judaism 8; Shas and Yisrael Beytenu 7; Meretz 5, and Blue and White 4.