Israelis To Go To Polls
After a hard fought few months of political campaigning, Israelis will go to the polls on Tuesday to vote for the future makeup of the Knesset. It is widely expected that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will win reelection.
With a less than productive Knesset, Prime Minister Netanyahu announced in October that Israel would hold early elections. The announcement sent Israeli politics into frenzy, around the same time that we were suffering the same fate in the U.S., and resulted in a fast changing Israeli political landscape. The Prime Minister’s governing party, Likud, joined forces with Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu, becoming a center-right force that was expected to garner a large portion of the seats. The merger sent the Israeli left into chaos, and prompted large-scale, yet futile, efforts to mobilize a center-left coalition.
Tzipi Livni, who was formerly a member of the Knesset and who previously lead Kadima, created her own political party, Hatnuah. Hatnuah translates to “the movement.” Despite some initial attention, Livni’s party has not garnered the share of public support it would need to mount a serious opposition to the Likud and Yisrael Beitienu merger.
Election polls show that Likud/Yisrael Beiteinu (Likud-Beiteinu) is slated to be the largest single party in the next Knesset with between 30 and 35 seats in the 120-seat body. The center/center-left Labor party is polling as the second largest party with just over 15 seats. The bigger surprises have come at the extremes of the Israeli political spectrum, with Habayit Hayehudi a right-wing party, polling with just under 14 seats. If elections were to be held today, pollsters predict that the center-right block would have 63 seats, two more than needed to secure a majority. The center-left block is polling with 57 seats, well more than might have been expected.
Speculation as to the future makeup of coalition blocks is a less than predictable science. If Likud-Beiteinu does secure the expected seats, there is still a chance that a strong showing from center-left parties could lead to their inclusion in a coalition government, rather than the Haredi block. Whether or not center-left party leaders choose to join a coalition or to lead the opposition remains an open question.
After the Israeli election, we at RACblog will be sure to keep you updated on the forming coalitions and what a future government might look like.
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