February 21, 2020

Israel’s Election Handbook: Right at a fragile 61

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

On the right and the left leaders maneuver to alter the political map.


Main News

Reports about attempts to cancel the election and form a unity government proved premature. Canceling the election is legally complicated.

The Labor party is scheduled to elect a new leader next week. Polls show Peretz and Shmuli neck and neck. The party does poorly in the polls.

Meretz to elect its leader on Thursday (6.27). MK Zandberg is challenged by former Meretz MK Horovitz.

Former Prime Minister Ehud Barak is reportedly forming a new party with General Yair Golan. They asked Tzipi Livni to join in, and are looking for other prospective candidates.

Ayelet Shaked is still without a party. Bennet says his party, the New Right, will run with or without her.

In Blue and White, leaders have contradicting views concerning relations with the Haredi and right-religious parties.

The Arab parties agreed to remerge their lists. If you wondered why they supported new election, the reason is now obvious: They regretted the split, and wanted an opportunity to fix it.

Most parties plan to begin their real campaign only at the end of summer, two weeks before election day.


Developments to Watch

Opposition: His new party, if formed, could change the electoral map. It could force Labor and possibly Meretz into a union (if these parties lose voters and can’t cross the electoral threshold). It could erode the number of seats projected for Blue and White, and make the election one between a few midsize parties rather than two large parties.

Right: the pressure on parties to join forces is significant, but the leaders are not willing to put their egos aside. Bennett wants to lead, Shaked wants to lead, Peretz wants to lead. There is still time to resolve these issues, but time does not guarantee success.

Likud: PM Netanyahu is surely troubled by the constant chatter among the political class about his looming end. A few days ago, a survey revealed that the most popular prospective successor within Likud is former minister Gideon Saar. Netanyahu sees Saar as a threat.


The Blocs and Their Meaning

The campaign is still numb, and the number of new polls is small (there is one compared to last week’s Handbook). PM Netanyahu needs 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 5 polls, he is there, but with little votes to spare.  For Likud and Blue and white it is easy to form a strong coalition – if they decide that this is what they want.



A Party to Watch

Blue and white did not get 35 seats in any of the polls taken after the election. True, its decline is very small. And yet, it is decline, while Likud keeps its numbers intact (except in the last poll). Here are the polls taken from the end of May to (almost) the end of June.