Sharon to beat Labour, secure third term: polls

Jerusalem, Nov 22 | Updated: Nov 23 2005, 05:41am hrs
Riding on a wave of personal popularity, Israels Prime Minister Ariel Sharon will secure a third term, beating the resurging Labour party, if elections are to be held now, a survey has said.

The polls, carried out by Dialog for daily HA Aretz on the day Sharon bolted his ruling Likud party, which he helped establish in 1973, saying life in the party in its present form has become unbearable, showed his new party emerging as the single largest party at the cost of his parent party.

The survey results said the prime ministers National Responsibility party will emerge as the single largest in the 17th Knesset with 30 seats, Labour will get 26 and the Likud will crash to 15 due to lack of credible leadership.

Sharon will then have the option to form a government with the centrist and Leftist parties, Labour, Shinui and Meretz-Yahad, that would together have 66 seats or even with Labour and ultra-orthodox parties that will add up the tally to 71.

The prospects of the new party hinges on the prime ministers own popularity where he commands a significant lead over his rivals for the coveted seat.

Some 37% of the voters would like sharon to continue as the prime minister compared to 22% for Peretz and 15% for the new Likud leader.

Surprisingly, some one-third of Labour party voters also see Sharon as the most suitable for prime ministership, compared to 47% who favour Peretz. The survey was conducted by Dr Camil Fuchs on Monday with a representative sample of 600 Israelis from all sectors of the population.