Right prefers Landau over Eitam 54.5%:27.3% -Yachad prefers Sarid over Beilin 72%:22%
- Poll: Right prefers Landau over Eitam 54.5%:27.3%; Yachad prefers Sarid over
By Yossi Verter Haaretz 29 April 2005
A comparison of Effi Eitam and Yossi Beilin will not flatter either one, and
it's the last thing either would wish for. But sometimes fate creates odd
couples. This week, the two of them found themselves in the same boat - a
leaky one that could soon sink to the bottom of the ocean with the two of
Eitam and Beilin are only two of a long line of politicians whose political
and leadership standing was studied in a special survey conducted last week
for Haaretz by the Dialogue polling institute. The survey, under the
supervision of Prof. Camil Fuchs of Tel Aviv University, looked at how the
leaders of Israel's major parties and several senior ministers are faring
these days, in relation to their predecessors, whose shadows still loom
large, or in relation to those challenging them. On the whole, pairs were
chosen to play this game of "A Leader is Born," with a few troikas thrown
Eitam, the banished and estranged leader of the National Religious Party
(NRP), today seeking his future in a new rightist party, and Beilin, cast
out of the Labor Party and elected about a year ago to head Yahad-Meretz,
provide some of the survey's more interesting findings. The boat they
share - a virtual one - is the boat of leadership and belonging. Eitam and
Beilin, as depicted in this survey, are leaders without parties, shepherds
without flocks, popes without believers.
Beilin's situation is even more complex because he, unlike Eitam, heads a
party and he hasn't been dislodged yet. Beilin is paired up in the survey
with his predecessor, MK Yossi Sarid. Survey participants were asked which
of the two were more suited to head Yahad.
For Beilin, the poll results are devastating. Among the general public, 47
percent opted for Sarid and 26.6 percent for Beilin. Among Yahad voters,
Beilin was really trounced: 72 percent of the respondents voted for Sarid,
as opposed to 22 percent for Beilin. Even respondents from other parties -
including the ultra-Orthodox parties, who remember Beilin roaming around the
rebbe's courts day and night, dispatched by Shimon Peres - gave more votes
to Sarid - 33.3 percent as opposed to 31 percent. It is hard to see how
Beilin can extricate himself from such a rut, and how he and Yahad can
continue together. There seems to be more rancor and antipathy toward him in
his own party than in the Likud (26 percent voted for him compared with 43
percent for Sarid). That is an untenable situation for him.
Eitam's standing was measured by the following question: "If a new rightist
party is founded on the eve of the elections, who would you like to see
heading it - Eitam or Uzi Landau, the leader of the Likud rebels?" Eitam, it
turns out, is just not perceived as leadership material. Something about him
doesn't make the grade, even though he is just as right-wing, extreme and
bellicose as Landau. Apart from the ultra-Orthodox, who prefer him to Landau
because of the skullcap on his head, there is no one who wants to see him
become leader of the right - not on the left and not on the right, including
the NRP, his former home, and the National Union, where Landau enjoys a
majority of 54.5 percent compared with 27.3 percent for Eitam.
For Eitam and Beilin, the same conclusion applies: Parachuting down from the
sky doesn't work. Artificial inserts never fit properly. If you try to
attach them by force, they bend and eventually break.
A more conventional pair is Shimon Peres and Ehud Barak. In answer to the
question of who is better suited to head the Labor Party and run for prime
minister, Peres continues to lead: 45 percent versus 20.2 percent in the
survey as a whole, but among Labor Party voters, the difference narrows,
with 43 percent for Peres and 30.6 percent for Barak. Barak started out with
a lag but he has been catching up, thanks to his work in the field and
choice media appearances. Little by little, Barak is moving toward the
target - dunam by dunam, hill by hill. The question is whether he has enough
time to complete the mission. Another question is where Barak stands among
the Labor Party members who make up the electorate. Next week, Labor will
meet to discuss postponing the primaries for chairmanship of the party from
June to sometime in October or November. The delay could help Barak.
From one mythological leader who is still alive and kicking - Peres - we
progress to another mythological leader who has quit political life but
continues to cast a very long shadow. Former Shas leader Aryeh Deri, forced
to resign in the wake of a criminal conviction, is still very much in the
game, if Shas voters have any say in the matter (and not only Shas).
In answer to the question of who should head Shas - Aryeh Deri or MK Eli
Yishai, the current chairman - Deri and Yishai were more or less tied in the
minds of the general public: 33.3 percent voted for Deri and 36.5 percent
for Yishai. Yishai, of course, is the favorite of the left. But among the
ultra-Orthodox parties (Shas and United Torah Judaism), Yishai lost big
time: 61 percent voted for Deri and 26.8 percent for his successor.
At first glance, this is bad news for Yishai. Actually, he is not doing
badly at all. In the next elections, Shas will try to steal votes from the
Likud, and among Likudniks, Yishai and Deri were pretty much tied: 39.4
percent versus 37.4 percent. Yishai could thus bring Shas more seats, or at
least help it preserve its strength.
At the other end of the scale is Shinui chairman Yosef Lapid and the man who
is turning out to be his chief one-man party rival, Prof. Uriel Reichman,
president of the Shinui National Council. Among Shinui voters, at least,
Lapid is in the lead. The recent slips of the European gentleman do not seem
to have weakened him in the eyes of his constituents. He beat Reichman 61
percent to 17 percent. In the general sample, the margin was narrower: 40.2
percent for Lapid as opposed to 29.7 percent for Reichman. On closer
inspection, however, Reichman supporters were mainly Lapid opponents. Haredi
respondents, who voted for Reichman en masse (40.5 percent versus 14.3
percent), probably don't even know who he is. They would cast their vote for
anyone on the list, as long as it wasn't Lapid, their arch foe.
The Haaretz poll also looked at attitudes toward two top ministers - the
defense minister and the finance minister - as compared with "virtual"
rivals. Shaul Mofaz was paired, somewhat provocatively, with the outgoing
chief of staff, Moshe Ya'alon. The outcome is embarrassing for Mofaz. The
responses of the general public are almost a tie: 40.3 percent for Ya'alon
as opposed to 41.7 percent for Mofaz. Israeli defense ministers are very
popular. Those who are successful - and you can't take away Mofaz's success
in fighting terror - are supposed to bask in the public's love and
gratitude. But Mofaz is paying the price for getting rid of Ya'alon. More
than articulating lack of confidence in Mofaz, the poll results are a token
of esteem for the humiliated chief of staff, a pat on the back of the
perceived victim, a vindication of the scapegoat.
He may have been bumped because of his opposition to the disengagement, but
Ya'alon enjoys the broad support of the left (47 percent among Labor Party
voters, as opposed to 36.7 percent for Mofaz; and 55.6 percent among Meretz
voters, as opposed to 22.2 percent for Mofaz, who is identified with the
disengagement). If it's any consolation for Mofaz, he has the Likud voters
on his side - 58 percent, compared with 34 percent for Ya'alon. At the end
of the day, that's what counts, because the Likud is his political home.
Netanyahu is way ahead of Mofaz. The survey made things hard for him:
Instead of pairing him off with one rival, he had to compete with two. He
was set up against Avraham ("Beiga") Shochat of Labor, who was a popular and
successful finance minister for six years, under Rabin and Barak; and Amir
Peretz, chairman of the Histadrut labor federation, Netanyahu's polar
The outcome was crystal clear: With all the draconian cutbacks, the poverty,
the soup kitchens and other socioeconomic ills of the last two years, the
people want Netanyahu in the job. As a prime ministerial rival to Sharon, he
has crash-landed time and again, but as finance minister, they love him.
Some 43.4 percent of the general public cast their vote for Netanyahu,
compared to 14 percent for Shochat and 19.2 percent for Peretz (Likudniks
are masochists, explained a senior party member). Among the right-wing
parties, Netanyahu is a superstar. Even the ultra-Orthodox, who have taken
abuse from him in the form of child allowance cutbacks, supported him
handsomely: 48.8 percent versus 7 percent for Shochat and 30.2 percent for
Peretz. As anticipated, Shochat was awarded very high marks by Meretz and
his party, Labor.
The poll skipped over run-of-the-mill candidates for Likud leadership like
Netanyahu, Olmert, Mofaz, Shalom and Livnat, and took a more far-sighted
view, trying to guess what might happen in the Likud a decade from now. For
the fun of it, two young ministers were chosen with vastly different
political approaches and personal styles: Justice and Absorption Minister
Tzipi Livni and Agriculture Minister Yisrael Katz.
Livni is perceived as solidly aligned with the disengagement and Prime
Minister Sharon. She is one of the more moderate politicians in the Likud.
She represents a kind of open, secular, liberal approach, not bullying or in
your face. Katz is at the other end of the spectrum: an outspoken opponent
of disengagement. In the past, he was in favor of Netanyahu running against
Sharon. Today he is considered an independent, a rising force in the party
plenum, a sophisticated, seasoned and shrewd politician who has learned the
ropes from the best teacher around - Sharon.
The public, it turns out, would choose Livni hands down: 45.8 percent of the
respondents preferred to see her heading the Likud 10 years from now, as
opposed to 22.8 percent for Katz. Among Likud voters, her standing was even
better (in stark contrast to her standing among members of the Likud Central
Committee): 48.7 percent versus 19.2 percent for Katz. On the right, of
course, Katz is the big winner (even among the Arab parties!), whereas Livni
butchers him in the left and center. In many ways, she is the image of
Sharon - muddling along in the central committee, soaring to the heavens
For the Labor Party, the survey paired up two popular young ministers
appointed to the government several months ago: Interior Minister Ophir
Pines-Paz, and Construction and Housing Minister Yitzhak Herzog. The gap
between Pines-Paz and Herzog is much smaller than between Livni and Katz,
but the pattern is similar: Pines-Paz trounces Herzog among Labor Party
voters (59.2 percent versus 20.4 percent), comes out ahead in the general
public (45.3 percent versus 25.1 percent) and wins the vote of the left,
right and center. Only in the ultra-Orthodox parties, which remember Herzog
fondly as the scion of a famous rabbinical family, does Herzog emerge
victorious in a showdown with Pines-Paz, who is perceived as anti-religious.
Herzog's problem lies in his public image. He is not perceived as a leader,
whereas Pines has taken part in many political battles in the Israeli
street, and clearly is.
Lastly, the survey explored the standing of three retired members of the
defense establishment, two of whom have been cited as likely to enter
politics someday, and one who has already taken his first steps in that
direction. The first two are ex-Shin Bet chief Yaakov Peri and ex-general
Uzi Dayan, and the third is ex-Shin Bet chief Ami Ayalon, a new member of
the Labor Party and a political rookie. The question posed was "Which one
would you like to see in an influential, top-tier political position?"
Ayalon, whose name is most familiar to Israelis, took first place, with 30.6
percent of the vote, followed by Peri with 23.5 percent (his appearance on
the Israeli TV program "The Ambassador" must have helped), and Dayan, with
17.6 percent. In the Labor Party, which Ayalon has already joined and Dayan
is thinking of joining, and Peri was once touted as a candidate to lead,
Ayalon won first place with 37.5 percent of the vote, Peri won second place
with 25 percent, and Dayan came in third with 23 percent.