The centrist Kadima, which currently holds 28 seats in parliament, would tumble to just six or seven places, while the Independence Party, headed by Defense Minister Ehud Barak, would win no more than two seats, according to the polls. Haaretz said only 15 percent of voters would want Barak, a one-time prime minister, back in the top job.
The rejuvenated Labor Party, led by a former television journalist Shelly Yachimovich promoting social welfare issues, would win 17 to 19 seats — more than double its current eight, the polls predicted.
Political newcomer Yair Lapid and his Yesh Atid Party would win 11 to 17 seats, according to the polls. Lapid, also a former TV commentator, has portrayed himself as representing everyday middle class Israelis.
The Haaretz poll surveyed 501 people, and the Maariv poll surveyed 570 people. Both had a margin of error of about 4.5 percentage points.
Netanyahu this week ordered the new elections for early next year, roughly eight months ahead of schedule. The immediate reason for the vote is the current coalition's inability to pass a budget by a Dec. 31 deadline.
But analysts say that after nearly four years in office, Netanyahu believes the time is ripe to win another term, thanks to his popularity in the polls and the lack of a viable alternative.
Netanyahu is expected to formally disperse parliament next week and then set a date for the election in late January or early February.
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