October 13, 2019

Election Handbook: Searching for a Theme

We call this format a Timesaver Guide to Israel’s Coming Elections. This will be a usual feature on Rosner’s Domain until next Election Day, September 17. 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

Warning signs for Netanyahu is early maneuvers. He doesn’t gain enough to have 61 seats, and his prospective coalition partners keep making trouble.


Main News

  • The Labor party is searching for a new leader. New candidates gradually getting into the ring. Ehud Barak is mentioned – again – as a potential runner. Expect a debate about possible merger of Labor and leftist Meretz.
  • Former Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, a highly popular politician, ponders three options: rejoin Bennett at the New Right, accept a lower position at the United Right, join Likud as a party member without any privileges and wait for the next election.
  • Bennett says he intends to run with the New Right. Hold talks about possible mergers with other rightwing parties.
  • United Right MK makes headlines by declaring his support of “Hebrew Law” as the law of the land – that is, adherence of the legal system to halacha.


Developments to Watch

Themes: We don’t yet have a great theme for the coming election. What would be the overarching question? In the last round it was: Do we still want Netanyahu as PM? This time it might change to something else.

Themes: Lack of debate about Iran/Palestinians/security could elevate other issues, such as secular-religious relations. Such issues do not serve Likud well, as the perception that the party caves too much to Haredi power is widespread.

Political: Will Blue and White rule out a coalition with Netanyahu? If they do not commit to such position this time, the door for unity government opens.


The Blocs and Their Meaning

Here is everything you need to know on the state of the race in one graph. PM Netanyahu wants to have 61 seats at his disposal without needing to rely on the rightwing-yet-trouble-maker Israel Beiteinu party. Based on the averages of the last 6 polls, he is not yet there.  For Likud and Blue and white it is still easy to form a strong coalition – if they only decide that this is what they want.



A Party to Watch

Naftali Bennett is at it again. Having failed to get the needed 4 seats in the last round, he wants to try again, or so he says. On one hand, that’s understandable. Only bad lack and a few hundred votes prevented him from entering the Knesset. On the other hand, the rightwing is supposed to have learned a lesson. Too many small parties – and they might lose votes again. Another factor: last time, Bennett run with popular minister Ayelet Shaked. This time – it’s not clear if she’s on board. So we should treat the following data suspiciously. Maybe Bennett is only looking to make a deal and merge with another party. Maybe he is waiting for Shaked to join in. Maybe he is just exploring an option, and is not yet determined to run. In the meantime, in most polls he gets the necessary votes to win 4-6 seats.