Middle East News
Support for Netanyahu and Likud growing, Israeli poll shows
Oct 23, 2009, 9:34 GMT
Tel Aviv - Support for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his ruling Likud party has grown since he took office over six months ago, according to an opinion poll published Friday.
If elections were held today, the Likud would get six more mandates to become the largest party in the Israeli parliament, said the survey by the Dahaf polling institute, commissioned by Israel's biggest-selling daily, Yediot Ahronot.
The hardline but mainstream party, which in February elections won 27 of the 120 seats in the Knesset, would get 33 if a new ballot were held today, it indicated.
The centrist Kadima party of former foreign minister Tzipi Livni, now in the opposition, would stay the same with 28 Knesset seats.
Livni's Kadima technically beat Likud in the last elections, by a margin of just one mandate. But she stood no chance of forming a government, as the bloc of right-wing parties headed by Netanyahu's Likud had become a combined majority in the House.
Netanyahu rejected Livni's call for power-sharing, and on March 31 formed a government with the 15-seat far-right Israel Beiteinu party of Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, the 13-seat left-to-centre Labour Party of Defence Minister Ehud Barak and a number of other right-wing and ultra-Orthodox parties.
According to Friday's poll, support for Barak's Labour Party has further nose-dived and it would get only seven mandates if elections were held today.
Netanyahu's personal popularity was high, with 41 per cent of those asked saying he was the most suited to be prime minister, compared to 31 per cent who chose Livni and 7 per cent who opted for Barak.
The Dahaf Institute questioned a sample of 500 adult Israelis this week and the poll had a margin of error of 4.5 per cent.