Friday, February 7, 2014
Friday, January 10, 2014
For anyone who likes to keep track of Israeli polling data.
Monday, January 6, 2014
Notwithstanding that an election in Israel is probably two years away, and that the polling in the lead-up to the last election proved to be inadequate, here’s how things have been going since that last election in January 2013.
The polling data shows small gains for the Zionist right — Likud Beiteinu and to a lesser extent Habayit Hayehudi — with equally small losses for the ultra-Orthodox parties (though Shas also attracts non-Haredi voters, it should be noted) and the centre-left bloc. Within the centre-left bloc, however, the main loser is Yesh Atid who, the data suggests, is bleeding support to Labor and Meretz.
According to this data, if an election were held tomorrow, Benjamin Netanyahu would once more have the (likely) undisputed right to form a government. Labor in this scenario would be the largest opposition party but do not present a serious challenge to Likud Beiteinu’s hegemony, in spite of the change in leadership.
Monday, May 13, 2013
The brotherhood is over but Lapid’s damage is done
When Yair Lapid woke up the morning after winning 19 seats in the 19th Knesset and decided the best thing he could do was drag Yesh Atid into a fraternal alliance with Habayit Hayehudi, he immediately consigned the next government to discord and dysfunctionality. When he hitched his broad, secular and centrist party – heir to Kadima, Shinui, and Dash – to a right-wing, national-religious faction representing the interests a few thousand fanatics living in isolated mitzpim in Samaria, Lapid with one move betrayed the very people who voted for him.
Lapid was terrifically naïve during coalition negotiations, stupid even. He wasted political capital he could have used to better shape the government on trifling matters like the number of ministerial posts. He allowed Habayit Hayehudi to carry over into the coalition agreement a clause demanding consensus from all parties on matters pertaining to religion and state – something the ultra-Orthodox factions had previously demanded. He acquiesced to their control of the Housing Ministry and the Ministry of Religious Services.
Only now is Lapid witnessing the sour fruits of his winter sowing. A Housing Minister (extreme even within Habayit Hayehudi) gone rogue, announcing tenders for thousands of new settlement units in the middle of negotiations, in so doing almost destroying the peace process. Yesh Atid’s liberal legislation on LGBT rights – employment rights, tax benefits, surrogacy access – stymied in the Ministerial Committee on Legislation. The status of the universal draft up in the air. Nothing accomplished on civil unions, housing, and other issues of immediate concern to Lapid’s constituency.
But that’s not even the half of it. The Lapid-Bennett alliance, after all, turned out not to be much of an alliance in the end. It was merely a marriage of convenience established to get its leaders ministerial seats and propagate the myth of the ‘new politics’. But in supporting Bennett’s entry into government, Lapid has allowed a genuine ideological axis between Habayit Hayehudi and Yisrael Beitienu to form, one that is proving and will prove destructive.
Monday, December 3, 2012
If I were a politician and therefore had to deliver public speeches, I would almost certainly do all of them in front of a giant portrait of Yitzhak Rabin.
(Credit: Haaretz/Oren Nachshon)
Thursday, November 1, 2012
Tzipi Livni finally revealed her plans for the forthcoming election last week, notifying Media and the public of the formation of a new political party: Hatnua, or “The Movement”. Shelly Yachimovich and Yair Lapid were both furious at this development, and the reason for this is clear in the initial polling, since as far Livni has only succeeded in pulling votes away from parties within the opposition bloc. Labor’s share of the vote has fallen from 23-24 MKs at the start of the month to 19-20 now, while Yesh Atid has plummeted off a cliff, moving from around 15 MKs down to as low as 5 in polls for Channel 2 and Channel 10.
Thus, the balance of power between right and left remains largely unchanged: the current average of recent data indicates that the right, or national-religious bloc, will finish on around 69 MKs, with the left, or left-centre-Arab bloc, on 51 MKs. Within the right bloc, Likud Beiteinu are projected to lose seats while remaining the largest party by some distance, with the gains going to the smaller ultra-Orthodox or settler movement parties. In particular, Jewish Home-Tkuma, led by Naftali Bennett, will pick up three seats, Shas and Am Shalem two, and United Torah Judaism and Strong Israel one.
Livni evidently sees herself as the leader who can bridge the divide between left and right, to be achieved by carving out a centrist niche which can appeal to soft Likud voters repulsed by Avigdor Lieberman and the extremist right-wing parties. Indeed, she has been aided in this regard by Likud’s rightward swing, made evident by the selection of a candidate list which promotes Danny Danon and Moshe Feiglin, while pushing out so-called moderates like Dan Meridor, Michael Eitan, Benny Begin. If Livni can pull one or all of these Likudniks into The Movement, while at the same time encouraging both Kadima and Atzma’ut (the Barak-less party of Ehud Barak) to either fold or come into her fold, then she has a very good chance of becoming the centrist alternative to Likud Beiteinu, ahead of Yesh Atid.
Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Has the creation of the Likud Beiteinu beast changed the dynamic of the election? Not really, or more accurately, not yet. The joint list is projected to lose a couple of seats give or take, but the rightist bloc is on track to retain its comfortable majority, buffeted by the transfer of votes to parties like Shas, National Union/Jewish Home, and United Torah Judaism.
On the left and center, the balance of power has merely shifted, away from Kadima and Atzma’ut — the parties most associated with the ruling coalition — and to Labor and Yesh Atid. Whether the center-left can actually gain any ground on the right in terms of seats very much depends on the futures of three prominent politicians: Moshe Kahlon; Ehud Olmert; and Tzipi Livni. Neither of these social justice-type politicos have formally declared their intentions, though they have all been engaged in suggestive activities, joint meetings and the like. Expect further movement in the coming days.
Wednesday, May 9, 2012
The Holidays End — The Election Begins
So it begins. For real this time, probably. Not like last time when we all thought it was beginning, only for a certain former defence minister to rain on everybody’s parade. From Ha’aretz:
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced early elections on Tuesday.
In a televised statement, Netanyahu said that, as his coalition government would not be able to agree on a national budget for 2013, he had “decided, for the benefit of Israel, to hold elections now and as quickly as possible.”
The elections would take place within three months, the prime minister said.
"In a few months, the tenure of the most stable government in decades will come to an end," Netanyahu said. "This stability has helped us achieve the two main objectives we promised the citizens of Israel – to strengthen security at a time when a dangerous upheaval is gripping the Middle East, and [to fortify] the economy during…a financial turmoil."
"We must maintain a responsible economic and defense policy," Netanyahu added, "to ensure that Iran does not have a nuclear bomb." He said that early elections are a "national interest," and thanked the citizens of Israel for the privilege they have granted him.
Obviously, this is terribly exciting in theory, except that’s it’s not in fact. Or at least, not at the moment. It is possible that a good deal might change in between now and February — will Ehud Olmert return? or Tzipi Livni? and what might become of Ehud Barak? — but at the moment, Likud will more likely than not return to power with a healthy plurality, granting them the privilege of creating the exact same coalition, with possible cosmetic adjustments, that they have forged during this Knesset:
And in line chart form:
Need it be said, plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. More thoughts on the election to come…
(Source: Jeremy’s Knesset Insider)
Tuesday, April 3, 2012
by Ari Shavit, Ha’aretz, May 9, 2012
The Likud-Netanyahu government speaks of four goals: Changing the system of government, passing a new law governing Haredi conscription, creating a new social order and initiating a responsible peace process. But its real goal is Iran. For Netanyahu, bringing Mofaz into his government is like Levi Eshkol’s bringing Menachem Begin and Moshe Dayan into his government in 1967. It creates a firm political foundation on which to conduct the strategic sparring with Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
The national unity government provides domestic and international legitimacy to the anticipated confrontation. Now the Iran decision will not be the decision of the reviled messianic duo from Caesarea and Akirov Towers. Now the Iran decision will be the joint decision of Netanyahu, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Mofaz and Vice Prime Minister and Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya’alon. Instead of pre-Iran elections, we get pre-Iran unity, which does the same thing. Instead of a two-month window of opportunity (September-October 2012 ), we get a four-month one (July-October 2012 ).
A new and surprising political move brings Netanyahu to exactly the same place he had hoped to reach through an early election. The only difference is that our summer is a goner. The Iranian crisis could erupt any day - or night - between now and November.
Tuesday, January 10, 2012
Where Does Kadima Go Without Tzipi?
If Tzipi Livni’s defeat in the Kadima leadership contest results in her diminution in Israeli public life, then Shaul Mofaz’s victory will prove to be entirely Pyrrhic. If Livni merely heads towards the door marked exit and retires from public life, Israel’s domestic scene and the international community will be all the poorer for it, for Livni is a first-rate politician whose intellect and vision for her country is equal only to her striking beauty and grace.
It is not unreasonable to place her philosophically in a line of Israeli leaders which runs from David Ben-Gurion through Yitzhak Rabin and Ariel Sharon, who came to the necessary conclusion that in order to secure a Jewish and democratic state for future generations, Israel would have to relinquish lands gained in war beyond the Green Line, and forge some kind of peace with the Palestinian leadership.
“The dispute,” Livni remarked on the anniversary of Rabin’s assassination, “is around the question of whether you can have it both ways – maintaining Israel as a Jewish state and keeping the entire Land of Israel”. The answer, she concluded, is that you can’t.
Her flaw, and what may indeed have resulted in her defeat to Mofaz, is that once the decision was made to take Kadima into opposition as opposed to coalition with Likud in 2009, she appeared lacking when it came to articulating a powerful and gripping counter-narrative to the more hard-line stance Benjamin Netanyahu has adopted towards both the Palestinians and Iran. Whilst Livni remains popular amongst the international community and in particular within the U.S. State Department, at home recent polling data before the primary showed that though Likud would stand to gain seats in the next election, Kadima under Livni would see their chunk of seats in the Knesset slashed in half.
Prior to his announcement that he was leaving Israel’s Channel 2 to run for the Knesset, Yair Lapid, a popular Israeli media personality and son of the late Yosef (Tommy) Lapid, must have been encouraged by a Geocartography poll that placed an unnamed, hypothetical party led by him second, with 20 seats, behind only a diminished Likud party.
Whether he starts his own party or joins with an existing one like Kadima, Lapid represents a mainstream political position held by the kind of cosmopolitan Israelis galvanized last summer by the social justice protests and concerned about the erosion of the religion-state divide.
But the metamorphosis from journalist to politician is fraught with difficulties and has had a mixed history, even during periods when — as in Israel and the United States today — confidence in elected officials could not be much lower.