Far-right Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would not be able to form a governing coalition if elections were held today, according to a Channel 2 poll released on Friday, March 10. If national elections were held today, the ruling Likud party led by Netanyahu could find it very difficult to form a coalition and might even find itself in the opposition along with a number of its current right-wing coalition partners.
According to the poll, carried out by Mina Tzemach and Manu Geva, Yair Lapid would be the big winner if elections were held today, with his Yesh Atid party receiving 26 mandates to 22 for Netanyahu’s Likud. According to the poll results, the Yesh Atid party could form a bloc, starting with its 26 seats, with the Joint List with 13 seats, the Zionist Union, which would win 11 seats, left-wing Meretz with 6 seats, and the 4 seats that would be garnered by a potential new right-wing party recently announced by former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon. This would give them 60 seats out of the 120 in the Knesset and, according to Channel 2. Such a scenario could frustrate Netanyahu’s attempt to form a new government.
Netanyahu’s current right-wing coalition is made up of 66 seats: the Likud’s 30, United Torah Judaism’s 6, Kulanu’s 10, Shas’s 7, Jewish Home’s 8 and Yisrael Beytenu’s 5. What differed in this poll from those previously conducted in which Netanyahu has trailed an opponent, is that Lapid seems to have taken mandates from the Right, rather than the Left, leaving an opposing bloc large enough to thwart Netanyahu from forming a coalition. The poll found that the Joint List, led by Hadash MK Ayman Odeh, would be the third largest parliamentary faction, receiving 13 mandates if elections were held today, and both the Zionist Union and Bayit Yehudi would receive 11 mandates each. For the Zionist Union, led by Labor MK Isaac Herzog, these results would constitute a huge drop from the 24 seats it won in 2015. Seven mandates each would go to Yisrael Beytenu, Kulanu and United Torah Judaism. Shas and Meretz would each receive six mandates. If former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon were to form a party it would struggle to pass the threshold to get into the Knesset, receiving only four mandates in the poll.
The poll was conducted as Netanyahu faces a number of criminal probes, one of which he was questioned about during this past week which involves his allegedly receiving improper gifts from foreign businessmen. Unless early elections are called, the next election is not scheduled to take place until 2019, but the poll could be perceived by some as pointing to Netanyahu’s current vulnerability in the face of the criminal probes.