February 21, 2020

Election Handbook: Enters Barak

Ehud Barak.


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 opposition gets both more fragmented and stronger.


Main News

Former PM and Defense Minister Ehud Barak entered the race with a new party. His goal is to form a bloc with Labor and possibly Meretz to the left of Blue and White.

Polls give Barak only few seats, but show a weakened rightwing bloc, if one discounts Lieberman’s Israel Beiteinu.

Meretz elected Horovitz as its leader, replacing Zandberg.

Labor election coming next week.

The initiative to cancel the election seems dead.


Developments to Watch

Opposition: Does Barak gain more seats, and where do they come from?

Likud: Would the entrance of Barak reinvigorate Likud’s electorate?

Right: While the left maneuvers and seems active, the right seems numb. Shaked has no party, Bennett is still running his own show, no mergers were completed.

Public: An eventful week finally made us feel we are in the midst of an election campaign. But will it hold throughout the long summer?


The Blocs and Their Meaning

With the entrance of the new Barak party (no name, for now) the picture becomes more complicated. Look at the following numbers, based on the average of the last 5 polls, followed by several points of analysis:




Netanyahu cannot have the coalition he wants. He will need to either get Lieberman to rejoin him, or form a coalition with Blue and white (or Barak).


The opposition is also stuck. Without Lieberman there is no coalition of the opposition to Netanyahu. And it’s hard to imagine a coalition that both Lieberman and the United Arab Party support.


Unity is possible. But B&W keep hinting that Netanyahu is no option. Barak is somewhat more cautious not to make a never-Netanyahu vow.


Or – we can go back to where we were back in April and no one will be able to form a government. In such case, would Netanyahu agree to step aside (or, more likely, be pushed aside) to allow unity? This is probably the scenario Lieberman and Gantz and Barak are hoping for.

Note that the numbers are currently somewhat awkward. That’s because we calculate averages, and Barak just entered the race (so the overall number of seats is higher than 120).


A Party to Watch

Israel Beiteinu, Avigdor Lieberman’s party is responsible, in many ways, to the current impasse in Israel’s politics. IT was expected to gain many seats following his decision to become the spear that stabs the Haredi political dragon. And indeed – it gained. But not as much as Lieberman expected. Here are the last 10 polls. Currently, the party holds 5 seats in the Knesset.