(Chart via IsraelMatzav – the number is number of seats projected)
Here’s your Mystical Paths Israeli election primer for 2013! I know you’ve been waiting patiently, so here it is…
The big news in this year’s Israeli election is the new faces. A generation of politicians, what might be termed the second generation of Israeli politicians, have mostly retired, aged, or had their political careers fail, and have left politics.
It takes 61 seats in the Israeli parliamentary system to win outright control of the parliament (the Knesset). The biggest Israeli parties have been getting progressively smaller over the years, such that they win about 25% of the seats and have to put together the other 26% of a mix of smaller parties.
Here’s your Israeli party primer:
Likud+Yisrael Betaynu – A merger of the long term center-right conservative-ish-very-very-lite Likud party and the Russian immigrant strong-right-in-talk-only secularist party Yisrael Betaynu (Israel Our Home Party). Leader Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister for the past 3 years, plays the middle ground, centrist, fiscal conservative, and slightly respective of religious balance except half the time when courting the leftists and the peace agenda. #2 Avigdor Leiberman, Foreign Minister for the past 3 years, has played the bad rightist boogeyman with his frequent extreme nationalistic statements, but has been all talk. The Israeli legal system goes after him before every election for mild corruption charges, which seems to gain him support. (The charges disappear about 6 months later.)
Analysis – Rightists who were supporting them before no longer feel obligated to do so (to guarantee that a right leaning party forms the government), nor do moderate religious. But centrists positions may gain support. They have a solid lock as the largest party and Prime Minister position, but could have expected 45 seats before the war. They’ll get a little less than the polls show, maybe 35.
Avoda (Labor) – Labor is the party that has ran most Israeli governments. Unfortunately for Labor as a party, whenever a party leader wanted to do something with which the party disagreed, he'd leave taking a chunk along. This eviscerated Labor, leaving them with only 8 seats in the last Knesset.
Yet with the collapse of the last round of Leftist insta-parties (ex. Kadima), Labor is starting to recover as the only stable thing on the left still standing.
New party leader Shelly Yachimovich has energized at least a segment of the left and gathered a few centrists by bringing a bunch of new (bad) ideas. I give her significant credit for having a series of ideas for the public good (even if they’re bad ideas) rather than for her own bank account (as most previous Labor leaders).
Analysis – Any leftists who actually believe in anything are headed here. They’re also picking up some centrists with their new economic positions (less personal taxes, more corporate taxes). The polls are believable at 20. Likud will offer them to join the government coalition. The question will be if they make reasonable or excessive demands.
Shas – Shas is an ultra-orthodox party masquerading as an ethnic party. Poorer as well as being traditionally religious (not ultra), Shas has used their support to authorize government funding of their own educational network and poor support institutions. This has helped the poor…oh and also built up an institutional empire for Shas (minor side effect?)
The previous chairman Aryeh Deri was extremely popular among their ethnic segment, and was convicted on corruption charges, imprisoned and banned from politics (not for life). Heeeeeeeeeeeeee’s back.
The person moved down to co-chair Eli Yishai actually has been doing a pretty solid job as Minister of the Interior. Shas has also been a force in pushing for more government services (such as health clinics and government service offices) in poor and outlying communities – including Arab Israeli villages. Somehow the meetings with the local leadership includes commitments to vote Shas, but good for them for getting government services.
And hey, a party actually creating and servicing constituents, maybe I should convert to sephardi?
Analysis – The inclusion of their old party leader will hurt them more than it helps. They’ll hold their own, staying around their current 11. Likud will offer them to join the coalition, they’ll accept.
HaBayit HaYehuda (The Jewish Home) – An insta-party! New(ish) and proud of it (one of their lines is “something new is starting!”), they’re a combination of a series of right wing settler zionist moderate religious parties that split, joined, died, came back, split, and have joined again.
They have a new charismatic start-up millionaire (every Israeli’s dream) leader, Naftali Bennet and an actual mix of younger and older people on their party list.
As the party is drawing rightists, disgruntled Likud-niks, people upset by the results of the Gaza war, they’ve grown from a tiny 5% settler segment to perhaps receive 10-15% of the seats – making them a real player. The news media is taking a laser like focus as they try to get the leader to fall on his face and come out as either an idiot or extremist (almost got him once so far).
He’s taken the most extreme position in the election – namely that Israel should annex the Jewish towns (but not Palestinian areas) of the West Bank. (That’s as extreme as a politician can be on the right. The left can call for all the settlers to be killed and the religious to be spayed and neutered, that’s ok.)
Analysis – Assuming the media doesn’t hang the party leader or burn him at the stake, they’ll get their 10-14 seats. But Likud will refuse to include them in the government coalition as too rightist and nationalistic.
The Movement – An insta-private-party! Created to give Tzipi Livni a party she could lead (having failed to take over Likud and being thrown out of Kadima), as far as I can tell the party has no positions other than Tzipi should be part of the government.
Analysis – She’ll get less seats than the polls show and won’t be included in the government. Members on the list will abandon the party and join with Labor within a year, if Labor will take them.
Yesh Atid (There Is a Future) – Yet another insta-party! Party Leader Yair Lapid was a leading Israeli media personality and son of historical hyper-anti-religious insta-party Shinui (Change), though he doesn’t profess an anti-religious position and has an orthodox rabbi, an American immigrant from Beit Shemesh, on his list at position 10 (unlikely to get a seat).
As best as can be determined, this party is an experiment to determine if media ego can be translated into political support. The party may have a position, “fairness”. That’s all, move along.
Analysis – He’ll get his seats that the polls show, maybe one less. The party won’t be included in the government and will disappear with the next election.
Meretz – The perennial ultra-secular post-zionist party, Meretz seems to be on it’s last legs. Not necessarily because nobody subscribes to such positions anymore, but they may be more comfortable in The Movement or Yesh Atid, where they don’t stand out.
That said, they’re the only one who’s online ads are showing up on sites I browse. At least somebody there knows how to use Google Adsense (and they’re the only party doing so.)
Analysis – They’ll get their few seats, won’t be included in the government, and will recover in the next election to continue to give the ultra-secularists a home.
Yahadut HaTorah (United Torah Judaism) – UTJ is the ultimate ultra-orthodox charedi party. The rabbis (who are not sephardi) will instruct their constituents to vote UTJ, and the vast majority will follow the instruction.
The appeal of the party remains very narrow and their growth has been somewhat below charedi population growth as some of the votes go elsewhere (Shas?)
They tend to be included in governing coalitions and never want a ministerial position due to the segments of the charedi population that don’t officially support a secular government in Israel (making them that much more desirable as the coalition doesn’t have to give a minister position to get their support – just money to their educational institutions), taking deputy positions only.
Having been in the last few governments, they have learned to govern and operate ministries… when they’re not trying to destroy each other inside the party or having disagreements between their rabbinical overseers.
Analysis – Their 6 seats are solid, they’ll be invited to join the governing coalition and will accept.
Arab Parties – Yes, anyone can run for the parliament in Israel. You can even declare that Israel should be destroyed and run (technically and factually illegal to run when saying so, but not if a leftist attorney general decides not to take action because it would be anti-democratic to enforce the law…this time, but it was required enforce the law when it was Rabbi Meir Kahane who’s statements were judged anti-democratic.)
In truth these parties are not providing any political influence for their constituents as with extremist positions they’ve never been included in a governing coalition. But they maintain the right to stand at the Knesset podium and throw insults.
Good for them. Glad to have them choose to express themselves verbally and rather than otherwise.
Little Guys – Otzma and Am Shalem are tiny insta-parties that might, if they’re lucky, cross the threshold and be 2 seat parties. One is moderate religious the other moderate zionist (whatever that means).
They’ll join famous parties of the past such as the Pensioners Party, The Third Way, The Civil Rights Party, The Progressive List for Peace, and One Nation. (Never heard of those? Hmm.)
(Chart via 972mag)