The latest poll numbers from Israel show that the Likud party has surged to a substantial lead over the ruling Kadima party. According to the poll, it the election were held today, Likud would win 37 Knesset seats compared to 25 for Kadima (there are 120 seats in the Knesset). This breakdown is consistent with the 35-20 split in favor of Likud on the question of which “team” voters have confidence in.
A month ago, Likud and Kadima were running neck-and-neck. But now, as David Hazony notes, Israel is feeling the effects of the global economic crisis. As the ruling party, Kadima is taking the hit.
Moreover, Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu, a free-marketer by Israeli standards, has a much better reputation for economic expertise than his rivals, including Kadima’s leader Tzipi Livni. In fact, when it comes to confidence in the ability of the parties to deal with the economy, the breakdown is Likud 37% Kadima 15% Labor 5%.
Livni may now wish she had made the concessions to the religious parties that would have enabled her to form a coalition government. Had she done so, Livni could have remained prime minister until 2010, perhaps enough time for the economic gloom to lift. As it is, elections will be held in February.
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