February 21, 2020

Election Handbook: Another Lieberman Surprise

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 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

The pressure on the right to get 61 without Israel Beiteinu intensifies.


Main News

Avigdor Lieberman does it again. His goal – he says – is to make Likud and Blue and White form a unity government. The party with more seats will lead the coalition.

On the tight, factions battling with one another. It is not yet clear how many parties will run to the right of Likud. More than one is a problem for Likud’s prospects.

Haredi politicians keep saying that they would only join a Likud-led government. But they seem somewhat less rigid about it.

Labor race: Peretz, Shmuli, Shaffir, intend to run. And everybody is waiting for Ehud Barak’s decision. Meretz race: Zandberg vs. Horovitz.

Netanyahu getting ready (as of Monday morning) to appoint Peretz and Smotrich of the United Right as ministers. Peretz as Education Minister, Smotrich as Transportation Minister.

Sarah Netanyahu was convicted and has criminal record.


Developments to Watch

Iran: Sudden eruption of crisis can completely alter the course of the election. For more about this, listen to my conversation with Colonel Dr. Eran Lerman on Rosner’s Podcast.

Themes: Does the election shape as one on state-religion affairs? Netanyahu fears such scenario. Thus, he wanted Smotrich to vow not to make trouble as Transportation Minister and prevent Shabbat construction of infrastructure.

Personalities:  The campaign is quite numb for now. It’s possible that Israel will truly turn to politics only two weeks before election day, when summer is over.

Forward Looking: what happens if teachers decide to strike when the next school year is supposed to begin, two weeks before Election Day? Their organisations signal that such action is under consideration.


The Blocs and Their Meaning

For now, things are exactly the way Lieberman wants them to be. There is no coalition without him, and unity government can be easily formed (with or without him).



Two notes on methodology:

  1. The Blue and White coalition in the graph is one of B&W, Labor and Meretz. If B&W can pull off a coalition that includes Haredis or Arabs the picture will be different – but the act is not an easy one to pull off.
  2. When we calculate averages we give 2 seats to a party who gets close to 4 seats and yet does not cross the electoral threshold. This reflects, on the one hand, the fact that it still has many voters, even without gaining seats, and on the other hand reflects its failure to cross the threshold.


A Party to Watch

If you want to know why there is renewed talk about the possibility of Labor not be making it into the Knesset this time, take a look at the polls. The trendline is downward, and the more the race seems close, the more likely it becomes that Labor will fail to cross the threshold. Of course, a new leader might be able to boost Labor’s chances. Then again, if B&W look like a possible winner, we can expect the voters to look for victory rather than rush to save a dwindling Labor.