Tuesday, September 10, 2019

We return to Thee oh Israeli Elections

The redux of the electoral loggerhead from last spring is due to take place on September 17, 2019.  Israel will once again demonstrate its broad and deep commitment to the electoral process, with one of the highest voluntary voter turnouts in the world.  In a world were Hamas is unstable, Hizbollah is flexing, Iran is rebuilding and Trump is Trump, the status quo may once again rule the day.  However, the future of Netanyahu as Prime Minister probably hangs in the balance, as another stalemate will force a Likud shakeup of some kind, and his pending corruption charges will surely move forward in the courts.  Here's what happened, and what might happen in the israeli elections.

Since my last blogs, the left-wing newspaper HaAretz has developed election tracking tools that are truly useful, regardless of your political views.  I recommend you click here to see descriptions of the parties in play and click here to fiddle around with their "build your own coalition" tool to understand how to get to the 61 seats needed to form a government.

Current polling shows that Lieberman, who brought down the government last December and stymied the Netanyahu led efforts to form a coalition in April, will be rewarded with as many as 10 or 11 seats in the new election.  On the far left, former prime minister Ehud Barak convened the Democratic Union with escapees from labor and meretz, only to lose control of the party and be assigned the 10th seat on their list.  Here's the quick summary of the latest average of polls:

Likud (Netanyahu)     31
Kahol Lavan (Ganz)   31

Either of these parties needs another 30 seats to form a coaltion, from the following.

Joint Arab List                           10 or 11
Yemina (Shaked/right wing)      10 or 11
Israel Beiteinu                            10 or 11
Shas (Sefardi Orthodox)               7  or 8
UTJ (Ashkenazi Orthodox)           7 or 8
Democratic Union                                 7
Labor/Gesher                                 6 or 7

No government has ever been formed that is dependent on Arab parties, so despite their being "leftist," they won't factor in the coalition building.  This puts the left at an extreme disadvantage in forming governments.  Each of those potential king-makers is competing from the remaining 58 seats after Kahol Lavan and Likkud get their 62.

So, let the math games begin.  Did you go to the coalition building tool?  Here's what you probably found. Likud, Yemina, shas and UTJ only get you 56-58 seats. They simply can't form a coaltion without Lieberman's Israel Beiteinu.  Kahol Lavan, Democratic Union and Labor Gesher only get you 44 or 45.  Even with Israel Beitinu there is no majority on the left.

This is important, because Lieberman has been saying that if Netanyahu and Shas/UTJ don't agree to draft the ultraorthodox into the army, he will "force" a national unity government of Kahol Lavan and Likkud.  But that only works if he can form a left wing government without Likkud, so Likkud would have a reason to have to do that.  Without a viable coaltion threat on the left, Lieberman's words are empty.  And what's more, even if Kahol Lavan (31) and Likkud (31) do agree to a unity government, which is highly unlikely, they could then do it without Lieberman!  - which is strange and funny.

And therefore, there is no likely coaltion AGAIN in the coming election.  And the real question will be what happens to Netanyahu in the aftermath.

Stay tuned.

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