Easy election win for Netanyahu, polls say

Easy election win for Netanyahu, polls say

JERUSALEM - Agence France-Presse
Easy election win for Netanyahu, polls say

Israeli President Shimon Peres (R) hosts Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem. Netanyahu has announced his intention to hold early general elections. EPA photo

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the rightwing-religious bloc is set for an easy victory in a snap election due early next year, according to two opinion polls published yesterday.

Netanyahu and the rightwing and ultra-Orthodox parties allied with him stand to increase their parliamentary majority to 68 in the 120-seat Knesset, Israel’s parliament, according to one poll published in Haaretz newspaper.

The existing coalition, which includes the centrist Independence party led by Defense Minister Ehud Barak, currently has a majority of 66. The poll found opposition centrist, leftwing and Arab parties would win just 52 seats, meaning Netanyahu would easily be able to form a rightwing coalition and remain in control of the Knesset.

Another poll published in Maariv newspaper also put Netanyahu and his rightwing allies far ahead of the opposition, saying he would hold on to the 66 seats he currently commands.

Netanyahu’s personal popularity is also on the rise, according to the Haaretz poll, which found 45 percent of respondents were satisfied with the premier’s performance. The results also showed Netanyahu’s closest contender would be Tzipi Livni, former head of the opposition Kadima party. Netanyahu on Oct. 9 announced he would bring forward elections.