April 2, 2020

Election Handbook: Likud Primary Dilemma?

Israeli Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara react to his supporters during an event by his Likud Party in Tel Aviv, Israel August 9. Photo by Amir Cohen/REUTERS.

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, March 2, 2020. We hope to make it short, factual, devoid of election hype.



Bottom Line

 We all wait for Thursday, to see if Netanyahu is still Likud’s candidate for Prime Minister.


Main News

Likud Campaign: Both candidates rush to meet as many voters as possible in person. For Netanyahu, who relied heavily on social media in previous elections, this is a marked change. His rallies seem exciting and invigorating for party activists.

Few observers if any believe that Gideon Saar has a real chance of beating Netanyahu within Likud.

The Supreme Court decided to hear a case concerning the eligibility of an indicted candidate to form a government (that is, Netanyahu). The decision was harshly criticized by right-wingers who see it as another meddling of the courts in political matters.

On the right: The expected merger of the Jewish Home, Tkuma and Otzma is now a fact. It is now a party of the more radical religious right. Ayelet Shaked decided to rejoin The New Right of Naftali Bennet.

On the left: Calls to merge Labor and the Democratic Camp go nowhere. Will Meretz keep the alliance with the other factions of the camp (notably, MK’s Stav Shaffir and Yair Golan) is unclear. Update: Shaffir now says that she will run as the head of her own, separate, party.

Main issue on the agenda: The failure of Justice Minister to appoint a State Attorney, and the battle between him and the Attorney General. The Right’s fight against the legal system is currently the main theme of this cycle of election.


Developments to Watch

Likud primaries: Is Netanyahu’s victory decisive, or points to him having a problem (assuming he wins).

Rise of big three: It is still early, but there are signs that B&W, Likud and the Joint Arab List are getting stronger while smaller parties get weaker (and might disappear).


The Blocs and Their Meaning

Parties in December: By number of seats.



Bloc averages in December: No main party can form a coalition based on its natural bloc.


Party to Watch

We are still with Likud, showing how Likud voters must take into account scenario polls that test what would happen if Saar will be the candidate instead of Netanyahu.

What do we see in these polls?

For each of the polls we show here (six last polls), we present four items: How Likud is doing and how the bloc is doing with Netanyahu and with Saar. As you can see, the basic trend is consistent. Likud gets more seats under Netanyahu, while the right-religious bloc gets more seats under Saar. So, the dilemma for Likud voters is clear: Are you looking to maximize Likud power or to give the bloc a better chance of success (with the last poll showing the bloc on the verge of its desired 61 seat majority).




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