Episode 2 – September 2019 Israeli Election Preview

Episode 2 – September 2019 Israeli Election Preview

Welcome to another episode of NIF
Australia’s Israeli election preview. While the campaign leading up to April’s
election was filled with speculation, this campaign has been far more about
consolidation and continuation. All the party lists have now been
finalised and fewer parties will contest the September election compared to
April’s. So we’re starting to get a better idea of who might make it into the
Knesset and we can break it down into roughly six broad camps. Firstly, the Joint Arab List. Running as four separate parties in April’s election resulted in
one of the lowest turnouts in the Arab sector in recent years. Ayman Odeh, head of the Hadash faction, will once more lead the Joint List. He’ll be hoping to
bring turnout back to the level of 2015’s election. They should get about 10
to 12 seats running on a combined ticket. Secondly, the Zionist Left, which has two
major parties: Labor, which is running with the Gesher party, which is right-wing
on security, but left-wing on social and economic issues; and secondly, the
Democratic Union, headed by new Meretz leader Nitzan Horowitz, and former
prime minister and defence minister Ehud Barak, which says it will lead the
defence of liberal democratic values in Israel. Labor is teetering perilously
close to the electoral threshold and you’d expect them to get 4 or 5
seats, while the Democratic Union should get about 8 or 9. Next, the Blue + White Party
in the center led by former IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz and
former finance minister and journalist Yair Lapid. They were the great
hope of the last election receiving just one fewer seat than Netanyahu’s Likud.
Their party is made up of a bunch of one-time allies of Netanyahu,
including his former communications director, and his former defence minister,
as well as left-wing figures like former Histadrut boss Avi Nissenkorn. The
latest polls show them getting about 30 seats. On the right, Likud is still
backing Benjamin Netanyahu as leader, despite an upcoming hearing on those
three corruption charges. This election Likud’s slate also includes the Kulanu party,
led by finance minister Moshe Kahlon. Likud is still leading the polls at
around 30 to 31 seats. Also on the right is Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael
Beiteinu party, the catalyst for the election do-over. He caused Netanyahu major
headaches when he received five seats in the last election. This time,
having increased his cachet by standing up to the Ultra-Orthodox
parties, it looks like he could double his representation. Further to the right is the new
United Right party led by former justice minister Ayelet Shaked.
The party’s running as a merger of the New Right party – which she formerly led
in partnership with former education minister Naftali Bennett – as well as
their old Jewish Home party. They’re polling at around 11 seats. Last time the
far-right Jewish supremacist Kahanist party Otzma Yehudit, ran with them
but this time they’re standing on their own and it looks like they won’t pass
the 3.25% threshold. Lastly, the Ultra-Orthodox parties Shas and
United Torah Judaism both polling around 6 or 7 seats each. Those numbers would be
slightly down on April’s election possibly having leaked votes to the
United Right. As you can see there’s been a few shifts between the factions: the right has bled some seats to the far right, although internally there’s also
been a realignment from Likud towards Avigdor Lieberman’s party the centre has lost some ground to the Zionists Left, and the
Arab parties have also grown although that’s probably more
a function of predicted turnout rather than getting votes
from any of the other sectors. Now we can take a look at
some of the options for coalition makeups: after he scuttled Netanyahu’s
negotiations in April and sent Israelis back to the polls, Avigdor
Lieberman has been saying he’ll push for a unity government between
himself, Likud and the Blue and White centrist party, presumably with some kind
of rotating prime ministership. As you can see at the moment that’s really the
only grouping able to form a coalition. Netanyahu made the Likud list
sign a pledge of loyalty to keep him as leader, but will Benny Gantz even sit
with him while those corruption charges are pending? On their own, the centre and
left; as well as the right, far-right and Ultra-Orthodox wouldn’t have the numbers
to form a government. The Arab parties have never been part of a formal
coalition in Israel. After the election,
there are a good few weeks where one party will get
the chance to broker coalition deals. If that fails other
parties will each have a chance to make it work until a government is formed. The battle lines have now
been drawn between the parties contesting the
17 September election. We’ll keep you updated over the next few
weeks as the campaign really gets into full swing. We’ve already seen some
changes in campaigning including from Benjamin Netanyahu who has elevated both
Vladimir Putin and Narendra Modi into his advertising. Remember to keep watching
Facebook and Twitter for more regular updates and
we’ll see you again soon.

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