Israels elections: Good? Bad? We don’t know

February 11, 2009 at 5:00 pm (Israel)

Israel just concluded its elections, which were triggered when Ehud Olmert of Kadima had to step down. His successor, Tzipi Livni, could not form a government, triggering elections.

Many people expected Likud (under Binyamin Netanyahu) to win. Many more wanted Likud to win. Likud did not win. Instead, Kadima won by one seat (28 to Likud’s 27). And although this means that Tzipi Livni of Kadima will be tapped by President Shimon Peres to be the next prime minister of Israel, due to the fact that her party won the most seats in the Knesset (the Israeli Parliament), a complication arises. The prime minister must obtain the support of a majority of the Knesset to form a governable cabinet. Because of Israel’s multi-party system, no one party usually forms that governing bloc: there must be cooperation and support from other parties. According to the numbers, if all the left-of-center parties were to support Kadima, Tzipi Livni would not be able to form a governable coalition. The rightist bloc overwhelms the leftist bloc.

But to complicate things more, there is a kingmaker: the despised and reviled Avigdor Lieberman of Yisrael Beiteinu. In a shock to most observers, Yisrael Beiteinu, a party often labelled as “far right,” got the third-most number of seats: 15. Even Labour, often one of the two most influential parties, got only 13. Lieberman has to choose whether to support Bibi of Likud or Tzipi of Kadima. His support will determine which of the two can form a governable coalition. And whom he will support will depend on who gives him most of what he wants. He knows he’s in a position of considerable influence, and he’s going to use this opportunity to the greatest extent that he can. This may be the only time Yisrael Beiteinu will have such influence.

Once Lieberman announces his decision, Peres will have to make a difficult decision. If Lieberman chooses Tzipi, Peres can choose Tzipi to form a government. If Lieberman chooses Bibi, Peres’s choice becomes even more difficult. He could choose Tzipi (because her party won the most seats) in hope that somehow – through whatever miracle of coalition-building – she will be able to form a government. Or he chould choose Bibi, because he may have a better chance to form a working coalition.

Nevertheless, any coalition that is formed will be full of special interests and privileges for the members of the coalition. Thus, the Knesset just may be forced to make decisions that may go against the best interests of Israel for the sake of pacifying a member of the coalition. If Yisrael Beiteinu is part of any coalition, its departure will mean an end to the coalition, so its demands will have to be met.

Seats to Israel’s political parties, from leftist to rightist:
Balad (Arab): 3
United Arab List (Arab): 5
Hadash: 4
Meretz: 3
Labor: 13
Kadima: 28
Likud: 27
Shas: 11
United Torah Judaism: 4
Yisrael Beiteinu: 15
Jewish Home: 4
National Union: 4

Seats according to numerical order:
Kadima: 28
Likud: 27
Yisrael Beiteinu: 15
Labor: 13
Shas: 11
United Arab List: 5
Hadash: 4
Jewish Home: 4
National Union: 4
United Torah Judaism: 4
Balad: 3
Meretz: 3

Various configurations:
If all leftist parties and Yisrael Beiteinu support Kadima: 71/120
If all leftist parties support Kadima, but Yisrael Beiteinu does not: 56/120
If all rightist parties support Likud: 65/120
If all rightist parties (except Yisrael Beiteinu) support Likud: 50/120

Advertisements

1 Comment

  1. Robert said,

    YAY Israel will probably have a right wing coalition headed by Bibi. It might even be a unity government but again under Bibi – if Livni because PM Bibi’s career is all but over.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: