Monday, January 07, 2013

State of play

With the election only two weeks away, the current state of play in the ever-changing election scenario here is as follows:
1. The three major center-left parties, Labor under Shelly Yacimovich (20 seats), Hatnuah under Tzipi Livni (9) and Yesh Atid under Yair Lapid (9) have been communicating about joining together to oppose Bibi Netanyahu of Likud-Beitanu.  But, each of them has a different strategy.  Shelly Yacimovich has announced peremptorily that she will not join a coalition with Likud, Tzipi Livni has not announced her intentions, leaving the matter open (people think she wants to be the FM again, but she is antagonistic to Netanyahu), and Yair Lapid has announced that he would join a Likud coalition under Netanyahu if it would prevent a more right-wing coalition of Likud with Bayit Yehudi and Shas.  So all three are at loggerheads and their attempt to stave off the looming victory of Likud-Beitanu is too little, too late.  Even with the left-wing Meretz party with ca. 4 seats they could not together reach more than 42 seats.  In fact these tactics show their weakness, their inability to join forces, and probably help Netanyahu in regaining some of the support he has lost to the right wing Bayit Yehudi Party.  There are rumors that Pres. Peres was behind this late attempt to form a center-left coalition, but his office denies it.
2. There are also rumors that after the election the Likud-Beitanu joint list will split again into two parties, although the leadership deny this.  It may be a clever move by Netanyahu to absorb the Yisrael Beitanu party.  It is noteworthy that after many years the indictments against party chairman Avigdor Lieberman suddenly were brought forward just weeks before the election, and if he is charged with a major offense, having already resigned his post as FM, he may not be able to hold government office again.  So since there is a joint list, and if the head of the other party is gone, Netanyahu may try to gobble up his rival's party.  On the other hand, it may be this very fusion of the party lists that has been instrumental in the combination losing votes and going from ca. 42 seats down to ca. 35. 
3. It seems clear that the combined center left, as it currently stands, have ca. 38 seats and the combined right-wing have Likud-Beitanu (35) plus Bayit Yehudi (15) and Shas (12), so the right wing coalition would win (62), together with some smaller right wing parties such as United Torah Judaism (4).  At most, even if Netanyahu was tempted to form a center left coalition with Likud-Beitanu, Yesh Atid and Hatnuah, they would have ca. 53 seats.  Its all in the arithmetic.  However, until the votes are counted noone knows where the lines of demarcation will fall and who will be prepared to compromise in order to get into office.


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