Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni is the odds- on favourite to succeed Prime Minister Ehud Olmert as leader of the ruling Kadima party, a poll released Thursday has found, reported dpa.
The survey, published in the Ma'ariv daily, showed 48.9 per cent of Kadima members want Livni to head the party, compared to 27.9 per cent for her main challenger, Transport Minister Shaul Mofaz.
The other two candidates in the leadership race, Public Security Minister Avi Dichter and Interior Minister Meir Shitreet, received 8.1 per cent and 7.6 per cent respectively.
The Kadima primaries are scheduled to be held on September 17.
The poll, which questioned 400 registered Kadima members, had a margin of error of 4.9 per cent.
Olmert announced at the end of July that he did not intend to seek the another term as Kadima leader, and would also resign the premiership once his successor as party leader had formed a new government. The Israeli premier is mired in a plethora of corruption investigations and has faced a barrage of calls to step down.
Whoever is elected leader of Kadima will have 28 days in which to form a new government, with a 14 day extension granted if requested.
Analysts say that Livni may win the Kadima primary, but she will have a hard time forming a new government, as potential and existing coalition partners are likely to make demands which she is unlikely to accept.
Mofaz is seen as having a better chance of setting up a coalition, since his hawkish views could attract the support of right-wing parties currently sitting in the opposition.
These parties are less likely to want to join a government headed by Livni, given her enthusiastic support for the current peace process with the Palestinians.
Should the new Kadima leader be unable to form a new government, elections will have to be held within 90 days.