February 22, 2020

Election Handbook: The Threat of the Threshold

Benny Gantz (left), and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Ashkelon, Israel; Photo by Amir Cohen/ Reuters

A Timesaver Guide to Israel’s Elections on  Rosner’s Domain, until 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 last week.


Main News

Iran is making headlines. Netanyahu revealed new information about its military activities.

Likud failed to install video cameras in polling stations.

Oztma, the radical rightist party, crosses the electoral threshold in several recent polls.


Developments to Watch

Coalition: Gantz might get the mandate to form a coalition, if (and that’s a big if) the United Arab Party decides to tell the President that he is their preferred candidate.

Likud: The party is trailing Blue and White in several recent polls by a seat. This could be important when the president makes a decision as to whom gets a first shot at forming a coalition.  

Right: Otzma is close or above water. This is tricky for the Netanyahu bloc, as the party could get in – and color the whole bloc as radical – or stay out – and waste almost four seats for the right.

Left: Labor is still the party to watch. If it sinks bellow water – something many pollsters think is a real possibility – the blocs picture could change.  

Audio: Turn to Rosner’s Podcast for a fascinating conversation with veteran political analyst Dana Weiss about Israel’s coming elections. It is here.


The Blocs and Their Meaning

The blocs: Netanyahu’s bloc does not have the 61-seat majority it needs – for now. Not even in polls that show Otzma above the threshold. At this point this leaves us with four options: 1. The polls are all wrong (and all polls are wrong). 2. A week is enough time to alter the political map. 3. Netanyahu will be forced to pay a high price to a party that isn’t part of his bloc. 4. Netanyahu will not be Prime Minister.



A look at the parties, a week before Election Day – with some comments following the graph:



Note these things:



In most elections, small parties get smaller on election day and main parties grow – as voters wish to play it safe. This puts Labor (and Otzma, that we don’t yet include in the graph, but crosses the threshold in the last three polls) in danger.


It’s hard to see in the graph, but Israel Beiteinu and Yamina also witness a downward trend.


Likud and Blue and White are tied on average, but the last two polls show Blue and White one seat ahead.


For Gantz, there is a lot of good news in recent polls. But forming a coalition will be tricky for him – unless Likud decides to dump Netanyahu.


Shmuel Rosner’s book#IsraeliJudaism, Portrait of a Cultural Revolution, is now available in English. The Jewish Review of Books called it “important, accessible new study”. Haaretz called it “impressively broad survey”. Order it here: amzn.to/2lDntvh