Israel’s Election Handbook: Kahol-Lavan Leads Comfortably

February 24, 2019
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at the AIPAC policy conference in Washington, DC, U.S., March 6, 2018. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

We call this format a Timesaver Guide to Israel’s Coming Elections. This will be a usual feature on Rosner’s Domain until April 9. We hope to make it short, factual, devoid of election hype, and of he-said-she-said no news, unimportant inside baseball gossip.

Bottom Line

After the big bang, the new Kahol-Lavan list (Gantz and Lapid) presents a serious challenge to Likud.


Main News

Reports: Attorney General is set to publicize his decision in the Netanyahu cases towards the end of the week.

Post-merger polls give Gantz-Lapid an average 5 seat advantage over Likud.

Netanyahu’s main effort is to paint Kahol-Lavan as “left”.

AIPAC’s denouncement of the deal that is likely to bring Kahanist activists back into the Knesset is used as political ammunition by Netanyahu’s opponents.

Several parties, including Kulanu and Meretz, are still very close to the electoral threshold and could be in danger.


Developments to Watch

Legal: Reports currently suggest that the Attorney General will announce a decision to indict Netanyahu, pending a hearing. Two cases (4000, 1000) seem finalized, a third (2000) is still under considerations. One indictment will be for bribery.

Diplomatic: Netanyahu will travel to Russia later this week for a meeting with Putin. He will travel to Washington next month for AIPAC. Gantz was also invited to AIPAC. The reception of both will be interesting to follow.

Political: right-wing infighting: Bennet tries to appeal to Likud voters; the right-wing union (The Jewish Home, Tkuma, Otzma) goes after Bennet voters.


The Blocs and Their Meaning

The Likud might not be the largest party on Election Day. This makes its claim on forming the next coalition trickier. It will have to assemble a majority of MK’s supportive of Netanyahu as PM and show that no other party can form a coalition. Will it be able to do such thing? Let’s look at two graphs and then explain what they mean.

The first graph shows the numbers of Likud vs. Kahol Lavan since last Thursday (8 polls) and the average for each of these two parties. The second graph looks at the performance of the right-religious bloc of parties taken together (the 67 coalition).




  • The right-wing religious coalition of 67 (in the current Knesset) maintains a thin lead over the other camp – that is, the camp that wishes to unseat Netanyahu and form a different coalition. This lead is stable from the time new election were announced in late December, but since this is a small lead (61 is the minimum required), even slight erosion puts the bloc in danger.
  • That the right-wing-religious coalition has only small advantage, does not mean that the other bloc can form a stable coalition. Arab parties do not join coalitions, and hence Kahol-Lavan would not be able to gather an above-sixty coalition. That is, unless some of the parties that we currently count as part of the Likud bloc decide to switch their loyalties after Election Day.
  • The likely candidates to do such thing are Kulanu and Israel Beiteinu. Then again, having Lieberman and Meretz in the same coalition – that is supported from the outside by Arab parties – is not easy to imagine.
  • What right-wing parties are afraid of is a unity government of Likud and Kahol Lavan. To have such coalition, Gantz and Lapid will need to accept a coalition headed by an indicted PM (they currently say they will not accept it). Another distant possibility: Netanyahu quits, and the Likud Party enters a unity coalition with someone else at the helm.





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