Posted: February 10th, 2009 | Author: noam | Filed under: elections, In the News | Tags: avigdor liberman, balad, Benjamin Netanyahu, ehud barak, election, Gil, Green Party, Habait Hayehudi, hadash, Ihud Leumi, Israel Beitenu, Kadima, labor, Likud, Meretz, raam, Shas, The Greens, the only democracy in the middle east, Tzipi Livni, Yahadut Hatorah | 2 Comments »
2:15 AM. As I write this post, around 25 percent of the votes have been counted, and one thing is clear: Benjamin Netanyahu is Israel’s next Prime minister
Don’t let Kadima’s narrow advantage in the exit polls fool you. These results are going to change as more votes come in, but even if Kadima maintains its lead, the Right wing will have a clear majority in the Knesset. That means that Tzipi Livni won’t be able to form a government, or to stop Netanyahu from forming one. The game is over.
2:40 AM: Ynet reports that after counting 83 percent of the polls, Kadima leads with 29 MKs, while the Likud has 27. Meretz suffered the biggest blow: Israel’s liberal party has only 3 MKs. The Right maintains its lead, with 64 MKs out of 120.
3:00 AM. Final results will only be published in a couple of days, but as things look now, we will have a Right-Center coalition, probably with Netanyahu as PM. He will try to have Livni and Kadima as his senior partners. Yes, all the leftists who voted for Livni in order to stop Netanyahu will discover that they actually helped him build a more stable coalition.
If for some reason Kadima will refuse to join Netanyahu’s government, he will have the option to form a coalition with the Extreme-Right and Orthodox parties.
3:05 AM. The “good” news: Liberman with 15 seats for now. He might get to 16 when the soldiers votes are added. It is still too much for the populist and racist politician he is, but far from the 20 MKs his supporters were hoping for.
3:30 AM. More than 90 percent of the votes are in. Kdima has 29 seats, Likud 27, Israel Beitenu 15, Labor 13, Shas 11, Yahadut Hatorah 4, Hadash 4, Raam 4, Ihud Leumi 4, Meretz 3, Balad 3, Habait Hayehudi 3. There will be some minor changes when the soldiers’ votes are counted, and all seat allocation rules applied.
3:35 AM. No reason to party. Going to sleep.
MORNING UPDATE: Kdima 28 seats, Likud 27, Israel Beitenu 15, Labor 13, Shas 11, Yahadut Hatorah 5, Hadash 4, Raam 4, Ihud Leumi 4, Meretz 3, Balad 3, Habait Hayehudi 3. 150,000 votes, mainly soldiers’, left to count.
Posted: February 7th, 2009 | Author: noam | Filed under: elections, Polls | Tags: avigdor liberman, balad, Benjamin Netanyahu, ehud barak, election, Gil, Green Party, Habait Hayehudi, hadash, Ihud Leumi, Israel Beitenu, Kadima, labor, Likud, Meretz, Polls, raam, Shas, The Greens, Tzipi Livni, Yahadut Hatorah | Comments Off
A new law forbids publishing polls in the four days before the elections, in order not to influence voters’ decisions. The Israeli media published yesterday its final polls.
The numbers are not that different from one poll to another, and they all show a clear advantage for the Right-Orthodox block led by Benjamin Netanyhu (*). This means Netanyhau will be Israel’s next prime minister, even in the unlikely event of Tzipi Livni’s Kadima being the biggest party. Our average gives the Right a bit more than 67 MKs, meaning he can form a government even without taking in the extreme-right “Ihud Leumi” party. As I wrote before, Netanyahu will surly try to get Labor or Kadima into his government as well. Given the advantage he has now, it shouldn’t be too hard.
Here are the numbers. The later polls are on the right. The grey column on the right end of the table is our polls average. On Monday I will post my own prediction.
(Click on the table to see it in full size)
Avigdor Liberman is the big winner of the elections. His party will probably pass Labor and become Israel’s third largest. The latest polls indicate that he is still getting stronger, so given the fact that we have three more days before the elections, even a 20 plus result for “Israel Beitenu” won’t be a big surprise.
Liberman’s success is helping Kadima, who is getting slightly stronger, probably because of voters wishing to balance his power in the next Knesset. There are 1-2 percent of Left-leaning undecided voters, most of them women, hanging between Kadima and Meretz. Barak’s labor is not an option for them.
Labor’s war bump has stopped, and the latest polls show the party even weakening a bit. This goes to show that the public is still not trusting Ehud Barak with anything but national security.
Shas and Yahadut Hatorah, the two orthodox parties, are very stable in the polls, but one has to remember that Shas usually over-performs in the elections.
The Arab Balad party is in real danger of not passing the 2 percent minimum threshold. It’s also more than probable that the two environmental parties (“The Green Movement” and “The Greens”) won’t enter the Knesset. Their campaign has been hurt by the war, but still, if they ran together, they would have gotten in. If Balad does stay out of the Knesset, that means that the Center-Left Coalition has lost up to five seats because of parties not passing the minimum threshold.
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: February 3rd, 2009 | Author: noam | Filed under: elections, Polls | Tags: avigdor liberman, balad, Benjamin Netanyahu, election, Gil, Green Party, Habait Hayehudi, hadash, Ihud Leumi, Israel Beitenu, Kadima, labor, Likud, Meretz, raam, Shas, The Greens, Tzipi Livni, Yahadut Hatorah | Comments Off
Exactly a week to the election, one thing is clear: Netanyahu will be Israel’s next PM. All polls indicate a 10 Mks or more lead for his Right-Orthodox block over Tzipi Livni’s Left-Center block (*).
But that’s all the good news Netanyahu is going to get. It is clear that the recent strengthening of Avigdor Liberman’s “Israel Beitenu” Party came at the Likud’s expense. Our average show the Likud with 26.7 MKs (it had more than 30 a few weeks ago) and Liberman with 17.3. This doesn’t hurt the Right block, but it will make life much harder for Netanyahu after the election. So far the Likud has been very careful not to start campaigning against Liberman. It will be interesting to see whether the latest numbers will change Netanyahu’s mind. UPDATE: They did. Netanyahu started going after Liberman.
The polls are very inconsistent when it doesn’t come to the four big parties (Meretz has 4 Mks on Channel 1 poll and 8 on Globes), so we might have a few surprises there.
The outcome of the election will also be affected by the number of parties not crossing the two percent threshold. As I explained here, this problem mainly concerns the Left-Center block, which has three parties in danger: Balad, the Greens and Gil, the Senior citizens’ party. Habait Hayehudi, the right-wing religious party, is also at some risk, but I believe they will get there.
Here are the latest numbers:
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: January 24th, 2009 | Author: noam | Filed under: elections, Polls | Tags: arab parties, avigdor liberman, balad, Benjamin Netanyahu, ehud barak, election, Gaza, Gil, Green Party, Habait Hayehudi, hadash, Ihud Leumi, Israel Beitenu, Kadima, labor, Likud, Meretz, raam, Shas, Tzipi Livni, Yahadut Hatorah | Comments Off
We have four new polls this weekend: two by the daily papers “Yedioth Ahronoth” and “Maariv”, one by the financial paper “Globes”, and one by the free tabloid “Israel Hayom”. All polls indicate a significant strengthening of the right wing parties. Kadima, which was in a neck to neck battle with the Likud just one months ago, has lost almost a quarter of its support.
Benjamin Netenyahu’s Right-Orthodox block (*) has now almost 66 MKs in our polls average. This will put Netenyahu in a very strong position when the negotiation to form a new coalition begins, and he will be able to choose whether to invite Labor, Kadima or both to his next government. With Ehud Barak’s high approval rating as Defense Minister following the Gaza operation, it is more likely Netanyahu will prefer having Labor in his government, and hope that the fragile Kadima party won’t survive a term in the opposition.
Netanyahu will also be able to form a Right-Wing coalition without both Labor and Kadima, but as I wrote before, it is an unlikely scenario.
Two more things to notice: First, Avigdor Liberman’s “Israel Beitenu” party is getting stronger, and can easily become the 3ed largest party. Second: the Greens and the senior citizens party, “Gil”, didn’t survive the war.
* In the Israeli Parliamentary system, the MK (Member of Knesset) who has the support of the most MKs gets the opportunity to form the new government. That means that the leader of the bigger parliamentary Block will be the next PM. Tzipi Livni will probably have the support of the Arab Parties, the Zionist Left and the Center. Netanyahu will get the Likud, the Orthodox parties and the Extreme-Right. That means the two blocks will look like this:
Right-Orthodox Block: Likud, Israel Beitenu, Habayit Hayehudi, Ha-Ihud Haleumi, Shas, Yahadut Hatorah.
Left-Center Block: Kadima, Labor, Meretz, Hadash, Raam, Balad. To this block we may add the senior citizens’ party (Gil) and the Greens, if they manage to enter the Knesset.
Posted: January 8th, 2009 | Author: noam | Filed under: elections, Polls | Tags: balad, Benjamin Netanyahu, Gil, Ha-Ihud Haleumi, Habayit Hayehudi, hadash, Israel Beitenu, Kadima, labor, Likud, Meretz, raam, Shas, The Greens, Tzipi Livni, Yahadut Hatorah | Comments Off
I was called to do a short reserve service with my army unit this week, so I didn’t update the blog.
We have three new polls in the last 24 hours. Our weekly average shows a 4 MKs lead to Benjamin Netanyahu’s Right-orthodox block (*) over Tzipi Livni’s Left-Center block. That means Netanyahu will lead the next government.
Labor’s strengthening in the polls, which we attributed to the war in Gaza, has reached a halt. Ehud Barak has now between 15 to 17 MKs – not too impressive, considering the fact that he enjoys good approval ratings as Defense Minister. It looks like most Israelis want Barak to be in charge of security, and nothing more. When one thinks upon Barak’s term as PM, it sounds like a healthy instinct.
Here is our weekly table of polls. The current Knesset is on the left column; the polls average is on the right. You can see the two blocks on the bottom. Notice that the three Arab Parties – Hadash, Raam, Balad – are shown separately, and so do the two Extreme-Right parties (Ha-Ihud Haleumi & Habayit Hayehudi).
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: January 3rd, 2009 | Author: noam | Filed under: elections, Polls, war | Tags: arab parties, daam, Gaza, Habait Hayehudi, hadash, Israel Beitenu, Kadima, labor, Likud, Meretz, raam, Shas, Tzipi Livni, war, Yahadut Hatorah | 2 Comments »
There are two new polls this weekend, and three altogether since the fighting in Gaza began.
The channel 10 poll was taken just as the operation began, and published early this week (I posted it here as well). Haaretz and Maariv polls were conducted later on and published on Thursday and Friday, respectively. Therefore, it’s interesting to note that all three polls show similar results – Labor getting considerably stronger, to 16 MKs, while the Likud and Right wing parties are loosing some ground.
Kadima also benefits from the war so far. But what’s more important for its leader, Tzipi Livni, is that all polls show the Left-Center Block (Kadima + Labor + Meretz + Arab Parties) at a draw or even leading over the Right-Orthodox Block (Likud + Israel Beitenu + Habait Hayehudi + Shas + Yahadut Hatorah). In the Israeli Parliamentary system, it is the leader of the bigger block, and not the bigger party, who will form the next coalition and become PM.
Both The Greens and the senior citizen’s party, Gil, don’t make it to the Knesset in these polls, thus proving again that when the conflict with the Palestinians takes over, it’s practically impossible to push a different agenda.
Here are the numbers and their average (in the grey column). You can see the two blocks on the bottom. Notice that for some reason, the Channel 10 poll adds up to only 118 MKs.
All pollsters began referring to the Arab parties by their name (”Hadash”, “Balad” and “Raam”), rather than including them under the general “Arab parties” category, as they were ordered to do by The chairman of the Elections Committee, Supreme Court Judge Eliezer Rivlin. I grouped them here for the last time, and starting from next week, I will show each party’s average separately.
Posted: December 2nd, 2008 | Author: noam | Filed under: elections, The Left | Tags: Benjamin Netanyahu, ehud barak, Kadima, labor, Likud, Tzipi Livni | Comments Off
Unlike others, both here and in the US, I don’t think the almost inevitable win of Benjamin Netanyahu in the upcoming election will be such bad news. Or rather, I do think it will be bad news, but I don’t think the other options are any better.
I don’t know anything about Tzipi Livni. I don’t think anybody in Israel does. Her ideological roots are in the Right wing, and she joined the Likud because she opposed the Oslo agreement. It seems she has since moved to the center, but so have most of the senior Likud politicians. Talking about a two states solution does not make her special these days – nor does her actions as Justice and Foreign Minister. There isn’t a single idea one can relate to her, and as far as I can tell, she shares Ehud Olmert’s and Netanyahu’s radical free market ideology.
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: November 22nd, 2008 | Author: noam | Filed under: elections | Tags: Benjamin Netanyahu, coalition, ehud barak, Kadima, labor, Likud, the only democracy in the middle east, Tzipi Livni | 1 Comment »
Strangely enough, almost three months before the election, it is pretty clear what the next government will look like. It’s not because we know who’ll win – Netanyahu has the upper hand, but it’s too early to call this one – but because of some circumstances created by the Israeli political system, combined with the current political dynamics.
Before I explain this, here is a remainder of the rules of the game: Israel is a parliamentary representative democracy. It has a general, multi-party system (there are no counties’ or districts’ representatives). The Knesset’s 120 seats are allocated proportionally between all parties who passed the minimum 2% threshold.
After the election, the president (currently Shimon Peres) gives the task of forming a new government to the member of Knesset who has the support of a majority of MKs. This person then must build – and later on maintain – a coalition of at least 61 MKs. Usually, when the prime minister loses the majority, the government will fall.
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: November 8th, 2008 | Author: noam | Filed under: The Left | Tags: ehud barak, Kadima, Likud, peace camp, peace process, Tzipi Livni, Yitzhak Rabin | Comments Off
On my way back home from a friend’s house, I passed by Rabin square during the annual rally commemorating PM Yitzhak Rabin. Both Ehud Barak and Tzipi Livni spoke on stage, and were equally unimpressive. I don’t think I can name a single Israeli politician who can give a decent speech (some say Menachem Begin could, but that was before my time).
There were some 50,000 people there, and the atmosphere was as gloomy as ever. These are the remains of “the Peace Camp”, once a real power in the political arena and now a nostalgic movement which hangs on to the memory of its dead leader. The left is going to crash in the next election, and the only active political force advocating negotiation with Israel’s neighbors is Kadima – a party formed mostly by Likud members. If the historical role of the left was to get Israel to leave the occupied territories on its own will, it failed to fulfill it. Israel has left Gaza and Lebanon, and will leave the West Bank, due to terrorism and international pressure. We lost the debate.
Posted: November 5th, 2008 | Author: noam | Filed under: the US and us | Tags: Barack Obama, Benjamin Netanyahu, George W. Bush, hamas, Jerusalem, John McCain, Naomi Ragan, peace process, settlements, Tzipi Livni | Comments Off
Most Israelis were just waking up when John McCain conceded and Barack Obama was officially declared the next president of the United States. On Monday you could still find articles predicting [in Hebrew] that in the end “The Real America” will have the last word and McCain will win. On election day there was an ugly article on Ynet by Naomi Ragan, the right-wing religious novelist, who quoted most of the rumors about Obama as if they were facts (for example: Obama’s campaign was funded mostly by rich Arabs, some of them from Gaza). Reading this article again this morning was particularly fun.
As for myself, I guessed a 318-220 victory for Obama and 52-48 on popular vote, which was not that far-off.
We will have to wait for tomorrow’s papers to see what the pundits have to say about the outcomes effect on Israel and the middle east. Meanwhile, here are some of my thoughts.
The US support of Israel– both diplomatically and financially –will remain the same. Assuming Israel will continue asking the US for permission to use military force (like it probably did before the attack on the nuclear facility in Syria) we will not see major change in security issues. The million dollar question is what will happen if Israel wishes to attack the Iranian nuclear facilities. My guess is that for as long as the US is in Iraq, nobody in Washington will care to open a third front (this goes for W as well on his two remaining months in the White House).
So what difference does the presidential election make? Well, the US has direct influence on two key issues here: the peace negotiations and the settlements, especially those around Jerusalem.
In his eight years in office, George W. Bush didn’t do much to reignite the peace process. Instead, he supported unilateral steps taken by Israel, such as reoccupying the West Bank cities and the withdrawal from Gaza. The result was an increase in the power of all extremist groups in the region, most of all the Hamas. Lately, there have been signs of a change in policy, the result of Condoleezza Rice’s efforts. As I wrote before, there is a learning period for any new administration, so it will take some time before we can evaluate if there is a real change in policy.
During this time, Israel will build settlements. We have been doing it for more then 40 years, regardless of the identity of the guy in the oval office – or in the PM office in Jerusalem for that matter.
All settlements are harmful, but some are worst than others. Even the neo-cons and neo-Zionists around Bush didn’t allow Israel to build in the area called E1, east of Jerusalem. The Israeli plan is to build there a Jewish neighborhood, an industrail park and even a few hotels, that will eventually be part of Jerusalem, thus diminishing the last option to divide the city into Israeli and Palestinian capitals. And if Bush didn’t allow it, nobody else will. Hopefully, Obama’s people will also keep a closer eye on other construction project in the West Bank, which only serve to to prevent the two states solution.
Finally, there has been some talk on the influence of an Obama victory on Israeli politics, and especially on the results of the general election in February. Some people, both here [Hebrew] and in the US, think that the “Change” massage coming from America will help those candidates who are perceived as “fresh” (aka Tzipi Livni). It has also been speculated that Netanyahu will be considered as someone who will find it harder to deal with the new president, given his hawkish stands. However, one might also claim that some voters will move to the right, in hope of a government that will stand up to American and international pressure towards concessions. But most importantly – in order to have an Obama-like spirit of change, you must have an Obama-like candidate. We don’t.