Wednesday, 18 March 2015

My analysis of the Israeli legislative election of 2015

Readers, despite many opinion polls pointing to a defeat, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his right-wing Likud party defied media expectations and retained top position in the Israeli Knesset. Perhaps his warning to loyal voters about the advances made by Isaac Herzog and the Zionist Union (a coalition between the Israeli Labor Party and Hatumah) and the fact that exit polls showed those two parties neck and neck rang true enough to rally around right-wing voters.

Likud actually managed to gain 12 seats, bringing their total to 30-most of these gains, however, came at the expense of parties more right-wing than Likud. In particular, the Jewish Homeland (a more extreme counterpart to Likud in many ways) lost 4 of its 12 seats (there are only 120 seats in the Knesset, so this is worth noting), and Likud's one time allies, Yisrael Beitenu, lost 7 of their 13 seats; tactical voting by their voters, to keep Mr Netanyahu in power, was likely a factor in their loss. Ultra-orthodox parties also lost out, with Shas and United Torah Judaism both losing seats-possibly this is a sign of social progress in Israel, or were some ultra-orthodox voters rallying around Likud? Yachad, a splinter party from Shas, meanwhile failed to gain any seats, but it would have had the election threshold not been raised from 2% to 3.25% during the 19th Knesset.

The left did perform well in Israel, thankfully, even if not as well as they expected-the Joint List (a coalition of Hadash, Israel's hardline socialist party, and three Arab-interest parties, partly created because of the increased threshold for Knesset representation) managed a good third in the polls, with 14 Knesset seats between the four parties, largely due to increased turnout amongst Arab voters and more Israeli citizens warming towards a two-state solution. Palestine is increasingly being recognised as a separate state to Israel (135 nations out of 193 recognise it, although most Western European nations, the United States, and Canada still fail to acknowledge its independence) , and it deserves full independence and full nationhood. However, Meretz lost two of its six seats-Hadash, which is more left-wing than Meretz (which is more left-wing than Labor) won over some of their more hardline voters, and both Meretz and the Joint List support a two state solution for Israel and Palestine. Meanwhile, the Israeli Green Party came well below the 3.25% threshold, with only 0.08% of the vote-Meretz supports green politics to some extent, however, so I believe the Israeli Green Party can form a joint list with Meretz in future.

Sadly for progressive people in Israel, it appears clear that Mr Netanyahu will secure another term as Prime Minister, even if the right overall lost out in that election-Shas will likely support Likud and any parties it can gather to form a coalition.

Please feel free to give your thoughts on my analysis.

Alan.

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