Friday, January 18, 2013

Election prospects

It is risky to make predictions over the results of an election, particularly when there are 32 parties competing and when alliances and enmities fluctuate.  But, I have never been known for my caution, so here are some predictions regarding the Israeli election that takes place next Tues Jan 22.
1. PM Netanyahu will be re-elected as PM by a large majority.  His party Likud-Beitanu is holding steady at ca. 34 seats in the polls, which is twice the total of the next party, Labor with 16 seats.  The two separate parties that merged their lists, Likud (27) and Yisrael Beitanu (15) together had 42 seats in the current Knesset, so this does represent a loss of ca. 8 seats, that may be explained by supporters of both parties opposing their merger.  But, even though Netanyahu would still have to form a coalition government, it would be surprising if any other bloc could out-number him.
2. There will be a significant move to the right.  The growth of the new right wing party Bayit Yehudi (Jewish home) to the third spot (running neck and neck with Labor) at ca. 16 seats, indicates a move of the electorate to the right, at the expense of both Likud-Beitanu and the center parties such as Kadima
3. This may be the most right wing government in Israeli history, If Netanyahu makes a coalition government with Bayit Yehudi.  The question is what center and/or religious parties would be prepared to join such a coalition.  Labor leader Shelly Yacimovich has ruled out joining any coalition with Netanyahu.
4.  The loss of the center-left:  There are two new center-left parties, Tzipy Livni's Ha'tnuah (the movement) and Yair Lapid's Yesh Atid (There is a future), together with Labor and Kadima, they will split the center-left vote and weaken the center-left bloc because they were unable to form a coalition together.  This is partly because of different policies, for example Tzipy Livni has been angling for a ministerial position, yet she is very anti-Netanyahu, while Yair Lapid said he would join a Netanyahu coalition as long as it does not include Shas, a haredi party.  But, the main reason for the lack of center-left unity is personal ambitions and antagonisms.
5.  A striking result of this election is the demise of Kadima, that was the largest party in the last election with 28 seats, and went from being led by Ariel Sharon, to Tzipy Livni (who refused to form a coalition with Netanyahu) to Shaul Mofaz (who did form a coalition with him, but then left), and Kadima is expected to poll only ca. 2 seats.  Historically, center parties have not fared well in Israeli elections, from Rafi, Shinui, The Third Way to the Center Party to Kadima.
6. Some personalities may not be seen in power again.  Avigdor Lieberman, our former FM who resigned recently on being indicted, has announced that he will leave political life if he is found guilty of any charge, not only one involving "moral turpitude."  His popular Deputy FM Danny Ayalon, who Lieberman dropped from the party list, might make a come-back if Lieberman is gone.  Defense Minister Ehud Barak is retiring, since his break-away Independence Party is not running, as it received no support.   Not many will be upset at his retirement.
In general, people vote on two subjects, the economy and security.  On the economy, there is no doubt that Netanyahu's free market economics has made Israel a fluourishing and stable economy.  With the threat of Iran, the Moslem Brotherhood and other extremists in the adjacent countries and the Palestinians unwilling to negotiate, security issues also tend to give an advantage to Netanyahu.  Finally, we need a strong Government with a strong leader to stand up to Pres. Obama and only Netanyahu fits this bill.  So vote for Bibi, you won't regret it.


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