Israelis are heading into the final weekend before the elections. Today the last polls of the campaign were published (since under Israeli law it is illegal to publish polls in the last three days of an election campaign).All the polls show a growing lead (3-4 seats) in favor of the Zionist Camp, led by Yitzhak Herzog over the Likud, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The latest polls also indicate that Yitzhak Herzog has almost caught up to Benjamin Netanyahu as the voters’ choice for Prime Minister. There is a growing sense, both in the media and on the streets of Tel Aviv, that Benjamin Netanyahu’s term as Prime Minister is coming to an end. Of course, this feeling could just be the result of a Tel Aviv media echo-chamber – however, that is looking less and less likely. Prime Minister Netanyahu, who avoided the Israeli media like the plague throughout the campaign, has been giving non-stop interviews over the course of the past 24 hours. He is desperately hoping to mobilize his base. Still to many, part of his approach has looked (at best) misguided. This morning Prime Minister Netanyahu accused theScandinavian countries of working to bring about his downfall.
There are still three days of campaigning ahead – including Sunday, in which the parties of the right are planning a major rally; (ironically in Rabin Square, where Prime Minister Rabin was assassinated). Prime Minister Netanyahu is expected to be the major speaker to the crowds that will no doubt be bussed in. So there is still a chance that Netanyahu might stem the tide. However, it is more likely that the Likud will do worse than the current polls reflect. Israelis do not like losers. As the whiff of loss begins to attach itself to the current Prime Minister, more and people are likely not to vote for him.
The only important poll is the actual vote taken on election day. Polls are best at identifying trends, rather than predicting exact results. Nonetheless, the trends do not bode well for the current Prime Minister and his ruling party.