Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Israeli politics

Now that the current Knesset has dissolved itself, the elections are due on Jan 22. But, Israeli politics is a complex game.  Since there is no local representation in our electoral system, the parties rule the roost, and where you are on the party list is an indicator of how important a politician you are.  Also, the parties break up and reform like a series of streams rushing towards the sea. 
Of course, Likud under Bibi Netanyahu is expected to win again, because the projected center right bloc is expected to outnumber the projected center left bloc.  But, a degree of uncertainty has been injected into the race by the sudden appearance of formerly disgraced politicians, namely former PM Ehud Olmert, who has seemingly overcome several corruption charges against him (not all resolved yet), Aryeh Deri, the former leader of Shas, who recently came out of prison after serving time for embezzlement of government funds, and Haim Ramon, who was a leading Center politician who was found guilty of forcefully kissing a girl soldier. 
Also, in the wings are the former leader of Kadima Tzipi Livni, as well as the current leader of Kadima Shaul Mofaz, Ehud Barak, leader of the new, small Atzmaut (Independence) Party and Yair Lapid who has formed his new liberal Yesh Atid (There is a future) Party.  A poll published by the Jerusalem Post indicates that if all these miscellaneous center-left leaders and parties ran together they could get more mandates than Likud, but not only is that extremely unlikely to happen, it also leaves out other right wing parties, such as Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beitanu (Israel our home) Party and Shas.  The right wing religious party, United Torah Judaism is in fact disunited and has split into two factions that announced their reunification, but it hasn't happened so far. 
Given the complex jigsaw-like nature of the Israeli political system and the formation of coalitions, the Israeli election is in principle more difficult to predict than the comparatively simple US election, where there is a choice between two candidates.  But, in fact it is more likely that PM Netanyahu will regain the premiership than that either of the two Presidential candidates will be elected. 


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