The Ashkenazi haredi parties, just like the Arab parties, enjoy all six components and will likely maintain their current strength.
The picture is less clear for Shas. For many years Shas was overvalued due to the dominance of its leader, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef. The rabbi’s dominance is naturally diminishing, but the party enjoys all the other components. It will not disappear, but in the future Shas will contract to its real market value. I assess that at approximately eight mandates.
It is important to remember that while the Arabs will not enter a rightist coalition, the haredim are certainly willing to enter a leftist coalition – having done so in the past.
Let us now analyze what is taking place in the relevant Left (as opposed to Meretz, the ideological Left is not confused by the facts).
The shattering of the Oslo vision has left the Israeli Left with no relevant message. When there is no message, things get out of control and the first to be affected are political parties. Their politics become personal and not ideological, tension within and between the parties grows, and break-offs and new, strange bedfellows flourish. In the past we have seen the same phenomenon on the Right, also as a result of lack of relevant vision. There have always been hatred and jealousy in the Left and Right camps. But when the passengers believe that the driver knows where he is going, they fight for a good spot behind him – and not for the driver’s seat.
The Labor Party
The Labor Party has always enjoyed all six of the components mentioned above. In addition, it is a party with history and a leadership mentality that knows how to address the entire public. For this reason, Labor will always be a leadership option. I estimate that Labor’s current market value is between 25 and 30 mandates. The party that under Ehud Barak’s leadership deteriorated to an all-time low rose again to its real value as soon as it rid itself of its problematic leader and put a young and charismatic new leader at the helm.
Shelly Yachimovich understood that she must propose a new vision to replace the shattered Oslo dream, and had the wisdom to focus on social and economic issues. However, the founding ethos in Israel was and remains security. In Israel, “It’s the security, stupid.” As long as Labor will not be able to establish a political/security alternative, it will not surpass the Likud. In addition to this basic fact, competition from Yair Lapid and Tzipi Livni on the one hand and problematic primaries that put anarchistic candidates at the top of the list on the other hand have eroded Labor’s value. Today, the party’s market value is lower than its real value (17 mandates, as per the latest polls).
Clearly, Lapid’s party’s current market value (11 mandates) has nothing to do with its real value. The party lacks all of the components except #6 – a young and widely recognized leader (thanks to his media career). This party isn’t really a party; it’s a person. It is a shopping cart capitalizing on dissatisfaction and hopelessness without proposing any real alternative. Just like Kadima and Yair Lapid’s father, Tommy, this party will disappear in a short time period.
The Movement Party
Clearly, Livni’s current market value of 11 mandates has nothing to do with its real value. The party lacks all of the components except #6 – a widely recognized leader. Like Yesh Atid, the Movement isn’t really a party; it’s a person. And for the same reasons as Yesh Atid and Kadima (see above), this party will disappear in a short time period.
Except for a clear message, the Likud enjoys all of the other components that make up a real party. Like Labor, the Likud is also a ruling party. But unlike Labor, the Likud boasts a large membership that plainly reflects Israeli society as a whole. The method for internal elections in the Likud is far from perfect, and the political mechanism is problematic. Nonetheless, the party manages to faithfully express the main will of its voters and to ensure (with safe slots on the party list) a high-quality roster that authentically represents the multifaceted Israeli society.