Labor Gains, But Could Face Coalition Crisis

January 16, 2015  

Labor would gain 26 seats in the 20th Knesset, according to a TNS poll for Walla! News – the highest number of seats predicted for the leftist party in polls so far. 

Likud has slipped behind with just 23 seats, according to this survey, although Jewish Home enjoys a post-primaries boom with 18 seats – a considerable hike up from previous polls predicting 15-16 mandates for the party. 

A joint Arab party list combined would take fourth place with 11 seats, although it is still unclear whether or not United Arab List (UAL), Balad, and Hadash will be running together in the 2015 elections. Separately, two parties barely make the threshold and one falls short entirely, with UAL at 5 seats, Hadash at 4, and Balad falling short of the minimum at 2 seats. 

The Center parties have suffered, according to this poll – with Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid and Moshe Kahlon’s Kulanu each gaining 8 seats instead of 10. 

Both are tied with United Torah Judaism (UTJ) at 8 seats, with Shas at 7, and Meretz and Yisrael Beytenu at 5 each. 

Israelis still prefer Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to serve again in the post, however, with 49% of respondents stating that they would re-elect Netanyahu and just 27% preferring Labor leader Yitzhak Herzog. A full 24% remain undecided or stated they have no preference. 

Walla! analysts also predict that Labor – even if it wins in the March elections – may be incapable of forming a coalition. Netanyahu, Bennett, and the hareidi parties would garner 57 seats combined, and it would be relatively easy to form a coalition in the event compromises could be made with one of the Center parties.

Herzog, however, faces difficulties from within the left-wing, as Meretz Chairman Zehava Gal-On stated Thursday that Yisrael Beytenu leader and Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman was a “racist and fascist,” and presumably would refuse to sit in any government with the party.

While the hareidi parties, most notably Shas, have aligned themselves with the left at times, they have stated that they would refuse to join any coalition that would not cancel the Conversion Law – which has been backed heavily by natural left-wing coalition member Yesh Atid.

As such, some two months before elections, the most natural option would be either a Likud government with Jewish Home, Kahlon and the hareidi parties, or a joint government with Likud and Labor – which Tzipi Livni vowed on Army Radio just before the poll was published never to do. 

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