November 19, 2012
The right-wing rises (and that’s before the war)
There’s something somewhat misleading about our new poll-trend graph. The numbers are all in place, the lines are drawn, the math is meticulously done – that’s the only way Prof. Camil Fuchs would have it. The one problem with this graph is simple: the polls included were taken before the beginning of the Gaza operation. This means that what you’re about to see – the rise in mandates of the Likud-right-religious bloc – is not due to the approval of Israelis for what the Netanyahu government has been doing in recent days, it is a rise we attribute to other reasons.
What reasons? Take a look at the graph, and an explanation will follow:
Last week, we mentioned the effect of the right’s “big bang” – the merge of the Likud and the Yisrael Beiteinu parties – on polls outcome and on the way the Likud-right-religious bloc performs. “The union between the Likud Party and Avigdor Lieberman’s party (the newly created Likud Beitenu, also known as Biberman) was kept as a secret until it was announced”, we wrote, and then asked: “Will this new entity be bigger or smaller than the sum of its parts? The variance between the polls is large on this question. Fuchs’ polls suggest that at least for the moment the support for Likud Beiteinu is smaller than the sum of mandated of the two old parties, but the jury is still out”.
We have a somewhat clearer, but not yet completely clear, picture this week. Likud Beiteinu, with Netanyahu and Lieberman at the helm, continues to get the support of the largest number of Israelis among all parties, with the Labor Party lagging far behind in second place. But so far the support for Likud Beiteinu has still been smaller than the sum of mandates of the two parties today (42).
So what contributes to the upward trend of the right wing bloc is not the war (this will possibly have impact in consequent weeks, depending on the outcome of the war and the way Israelis react to it), and it is not the merger of the two main right-of-center parties. The polls we added this week to the mix were affected by something else – more changes in Israel’s increasingly complicated and fractured political map. A new player joined the “bloc”, and the support it is getting was added to the sum of mandates of the bloc.
This player is Rabbi Haim Amsalem, head of the new party Am Shalem. Amsalem and his running mate, General Elazar Stern, are mostly known as the trouble makers of the Orthodox religious world. “Amsalem was expelled from Shas in 2010 due to his public criticism of the party regarding discrimination against Sephardi girls in Haredi schools, and failing to encourage members of the Haredi community to perform military service and integrate into the work force”.
Fuchs found that Amsalem is being supported by secular and traditional voters. But at least for the time being we are going to assume that while Amsalem and Stern aren’t going to make it easy for Netanyahu to keep the religious status quo, Amsalem’s political views on most matters are more consistent with those of the right wing – and hence, that he is much more likely to join a right-religious coalition. Thus, the effect of the Am Shalem party on the graph, coupled with a weakening support for the new Yair Lapid party (Yesh Atid) - a centrist party - result in a decrease in the support for the Center-Left bloc (to 51 mandates) and to a corresponding increase in the support for the Right-Religious bloc (to 69 mandates). The gap has widened once again. (Note to readers: in this week’s graph we continue to present the number of mandated for the Likud-Center bloc at its value from two weeks ago.
As we previously mentioned, since Lieberman’s party joined the Likud, the Likud-Center seems like an oxymoron and we’re not sure if this option has any real value at this time)
The two “interventions” of the last two weeks (that is, the new players Likud Beiteinu from last week and Am Shalem this week), are both related to events within the election campaign. But now, it may well be that the next set of figures we’ll be presenting next week are affected by events unrelated to the political framework – namely, the war in Gaza. It is not unconceivable to think that that the elections results may be more affected by the results of the war than by the formation of any new parties.
And here are the latest polls from Israel. Our trend-tracker feature is based on the aggregation of all polls by Prof Fuchs.
About this feature:
The Israel’s Poll Trend feature is your best way of following Israel’s polls and understanding Israel’s political numbers. We regularly post an updated Israel’s Poll Trend page that includes the following:
Some technical notes:
1. We only use polls available to the public, and we attempt to gather all available polls without missing any.
2. The trendline is weekly – namely, it does not change with every poll but rather by week (based on all polls published during the week).
3. As we go along, the mathematical formula with which we draw the trendline should improve, and become more accurate.