March 18, 2019

Israel’s Election Handbook: Kahol Lavan weakens

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman (Public Domain)

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

For now, it seems like a draw.

 

Main News

In the polls, Kahol Lavan declines.

The Supreme Court will convene to discuss which parties are eligible to run for the Knesset.

The central elections committee disqualified Arab Party Balad.

The committee rejected the Attorney General’s position and did not disqualify Michael Ben Ari from the far-right party Otzma Yehudit.

In recent polls, the Zehut party of religious-rightist-libertarian Moshe Feiglin crosses the electoral threshold.

 

Developments to Watch

Material: The tension around Gaza is growing. An eruption of violence could impact the last weeks of the campaign.

Political: The loyalty of Kahol Lavan voters is weak. It remains to be seen if more of them abandon the party. If the party does not get significantly more votes than Likud, it might not get a chance to form a coalition.

Political: At least two parties on the right – Kulanu and Zehut – are not committed to support Netanyahu as the next Prime Minister.

Personal: Among the veteran leaders that Israel lost in this election cycle, Avigdor Lieberman could be next. In most recent polls his party does not cross the electoral threshold.

 

The Blocs and Their Meaning

Here is a graph that includes all the parties who (on average) cross the electoral threshold in recent polls. In this graph we compare the averages of these parties for two periods. One – from March 1st. Two – last 3 polls. What do we see in these polls? That Kahol Lavan is losing seats. Some of their voters move back to supporting Labor. We also see that Likud lost some voters following the decision to indict PM Netanyahu. Zehut might be the beneficiary of that. In two of the last three polls Zehut got 4 seats (in the third polls it was pretty close to getting 4). Zehut, along with Kulanu, Meretz and Shas are close to the electoral threshold, and hence their fate is still in doubt.

 

 

What about the next coalition? It is complicated. In the second graph you can see the average of the Netanyahu base coalition. That is, all the parties that were part of the 2015 Netanyahu coalition. It is close to having a majority, but not quite there yet.

 

 

Now consider the last graph. What you see here (based on the last three polls) is what happens if we count Kulanu and Zehut in or out. Kulanu was part of the Netanyahu coalition but is not committed to continue with it. Zehut was not part of the coalition, but is considered by many to be a natural member of a right-religious coalition. What is clear from this graph is simple: in a base coalition, every member is king because without him there is no coalition. This means that the price Netanyahu will have to pay as he forms his coalition is going to be high. That is, unless there is another option – the option of unity with Kahol Lavan.