September 22, 2019

Netanyahu’s Game of Coalition Building

LATEST UPDATE: May 8, 2012

So no early elections after all. Read more here.‎

I’ll start with the following three facts:‎

‎1. Israel’s election is four months away. It is almost certainly to be held on September 4.  ‎

‎2. Netanyahu, the head of the Likud Party, will almost certainly be the next Israeli Prime ‎Minister. That is, if the polls are accurate. (Why? Read here)‎

‎3. The new Israel’s Poll Trend feature is your best way of following Israel’s polls and ‎understanding Israel’s political numbers.  This new feature is part of the larger J-Meter, and is also a Rosner-Fuchs joint venture (namely, a feature in which we take credit for ‎work done mainly by Sara Miller, the Rosner’s Domain content manager).‎

Every week we will post an updated Israel’s Election Trends page that includes the ‎following:‎

‎1. Fine-tuned presentation of three possible coalitions: A right-wing coalition, a centrist ‎coalition and a left-wing coalition. This presentation, prepared by Prof. Camil Fuchs, will be at the heart of our attempt to ‎explain how Israel’s political story unfolds between now and Election Day.‎

‎2. The latest 10 Israeli polls: Namely, the 10 most recent polls of political parties published ‎by the Israeli media. In the table you’ll be able to see where the poll was published, on ‎what date, and the distribution of mandates among Israel’s many parties. ‎

‎3. Short analysis of the numbers and the dynamics presented in the graph and the table. ‎

So, let’s get to work, starting with our presentation of coalition blocs. More analysis will ‎follow the graph, but the headline of this graph should be clear: If elections were held ‎today, Netanyahu would have a choice that would be very convenient for him. He could ‎form a right-wing coalition (namely Likud + all religious parties and right-wing parties) that ‎would have a majority of 65 (out of 120) Knesset members; he could form a centrist ‎coalition (namely Likud + Kadima + Lapid’s Yesh Atid + Labor) that would have a majority of ‎‎71 Knesset members; naturally, with these two options open to him he could also form any ‎combination of the two, drawing from the two camps and forming a coalition that is even ‎larger. With so many options open to him, he should be in a position to be a tough ‎negotiator with the parties and get what he really wants. ‎

Take a look at the graph:‎

What do you see?‎

The three coalition blocs that we decided to follow on a weekly basis (those are the ‎trendlines in the three different colors); the polls used by Prof. Fuchs as he was creating ‎the trendlines (those are the dots along the way); the majority line – the red mark placed a ‎notch above the 60-seats line.  ‎

The trendlines we start with track the changes of the last two months, and a couple of ‎things can be said about them (caveat: all of it is true if polls can be trusted to accurately ‎record the current Israeli mood):‎

•‎ It doesn’t change that much. Netanyahu has had the two optional ‎coalitions the entire time. ‎

‎•‎ Netanyahu does have the option of a right-wing coalition, but it is not a safe one, a ‎shift of 4-5 mandates is possible and would completely change the picture.‎

‎•‎ The center-left can strive to have a bloc large enough to force Netanyahu into ‎building a coalition that includes centrist elements, but for it to be able to form a ‎government a lot has to change. ‎

‎•‎ All in all, the gap between the right bloc and the left bloc is slightly and gradually ‎narrowing in this graph (look at the red and the blue lines). ‎

‎•‎ The power of the centrist parties (including Likud) seems to be gradually growing ‎‎(green line).

As you can see in the table immediately below, Likud is the only party that can really be ‎called “big”, and it is followed by five other mid-size parties. Three of these five (Kadima, ‎Yesh Atid and Labor) are basically competing for votes from the same pool of voters, while ‎Shas’ struggle will be to thwart possible threat from a new Sephardic-religious party ‎headed by Aryeh Deri (if such party does emerge). Yisrael Beiteinu competes with Likud ‎and other right-wing parties for votes, but the real question related to its future is the ‎looming decision by Israel’s Attorney General as to whether the party’s leader, Foreign ‎Minister Avigdor Lieberman, will stand trial for corruption (this decision is expected in a ‎couple of weeks).  ‎

Take a look at the table:‎

A couple of technical notes:‎

‎1. We only use polls available to the public, and we attempt to gather all available polls ‎without missing any.‎

‎2. The trendlines are weekly – namely, it does not change with every poll but rather by ‎week (based on all polls published during the week).‎

‎3. As we go along, the mathematical formula which we use to plot the trendlines should ‎get better and become more accurate.‎