web analytics
April 21, 2014 / 21 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Labor’

The Next Round: Will Netanyahu Retain His Title?

Tuesday, May 7th, 2013

Netanyahu had no real opponent in the recent election for Israel’s 19th Knesset, making his re-election clear before elections were even announced. Thus, despite what many analysts graded as the worst campaign of the Knesset’s 12 parties, the alliance between the Prime Minister and former Foreign Minister Lieberman resulted in a clear win of 31 seats for Likud Beitenu. Second place Yair Lapid was the surprise of the elections, winning 19 seats, and he quickly announced he was looking to be a coalition member and not the Opposition Leader.

This Friday, Smith conducted a poll published by Globes, which put Prime Minister Netanyahu’s center-right Likud-Beitenu and Finance Minister Lapid’s center-left Yesh Atid at a 30-30 tie.  While polling is not an exact science, polls provide us with the latest voting trends and they are the best tool we have for predicting election results. The Smith poll is significant because Smith is not only one of the highest rated polling companies, but it most accurately predicted the 2013 election results.

In addition, the Smith poll makes Lapid the first contender to achieve that kind of success in a mid-term poll since Kadima, under Tzipi Livni, hit 30 seats in polls following Ehud Barak’s split from Labor in early 2011.  Friday’s poll also indicated that the two other current self-labeled center parties, led by Tzipi Livni and Shaul Mofaz, would fail to pass the threshold in a new election, with their eight seats likely heading to Yesh Atid.

Ever since Netanyahu climbed to the top of the polls in the aftermath of the Second Lebanon War in 2006, there has been a shift of support from the traditional ideological left vs. right vote to the “Netanyahu & friends” vs. the “Anti-Netanyahu” vote. This phenomenon was evident when extreme left-wing party Meretz dropped to three seats in the 2009 elections because left-wing voters supported Tzipi Livni, hoping she would defeat Netanyahu.

In that election, Livni won 29 mandates, but Netanyahu, with 28 mandates, nevertheless formed the coalition. After Barak formed the Independence party and Labor faced another possible split led by MK Amir Peretz, polls showed that Labor voters began to support Livni. A few months later, however, voters have pulled their support from Livni. That’s because while Netanyahu hasn’t had any real competition since – he has now.

Although the current government has an unconventional make-up, splitting the Knesset into its traditional blocks, the key to the next government, shows a tie between the right and left. The poll gives the right-religious block of Likud-Beitenu, Bayit Yehudi, Shas and UTJ 60 seats. The center-left-Arab block of Yesh Atid, Labor, Meretz, Hadash, Ra’am-Ta’al and Balad win the other 60. One could argue that the Arab parties would never join a coalition, but splitting the seats between the traditional blocks gives a good indication for Netanyahu’s chances of forming a government. That’s because one can expect members of the center-left block to not join a Netanyahu government unless they expect him to form a coalition without them.

Many in the ideological-left camp feel that Labor, the third largest party, will be a big player in the next election. But Labor ran as the alternative to the Netanyahu government this past election and won a disappointing 15 seats. The Smith poll has Labor falling to 12, lower than the 13 seats Labor achieved under Ehud Barak in the 2009 elections. Labor, which has seen six leadership changes in the last dozen years, has become somewhat of a joke in many political circles. It seems highly unlikely that the party, under whichever leader it chooses, will be able to convince the Israeli voter to yet again look to them as the alternative to Netanyahu.

Naftali Bennett’s Bayit Yehudi came in fourth place in the recent elections with 12 seats. Bennett is an obvious future candidate for Prime Minister and will be a key player in the next election. The Smith poll has Bennett’s party in third place which means that after the next elections, he may have a chance to play the traditional kingmaker role of Israeli politics deciding between his former boss Prime Minister Netanyahu and his new best friend Yair Lapid. The thought of Bennett not backing the right-wing candidate seems improbable, but not if Netanyahu treats Bennett during this administration as poorly as he did in the weeks following the recent elections.

Lapid Holds Up Coalition, But Rumors Fly that an Alternative Coalition Might Be Forming

Wednesday, March 13th, 2013

“So close, and yet so far,” could effectively describe the status of coalition talks according to leaks, rumors and reports.

At the moment, coalition talks are reportedly circling primarily around the Education Ministry that Likud-Beytenu wants to keep, and which Yair Lapid is demanding at all costs.

Some within Likud-Beytenu believe that Lapid is not interested in forming a coalition at all, and wants to drag out the process until the upcoming deadline forces new elections, as polls indicate his position might strengthen even further if elections were held again.

Likud-Beytenu is also saying that they will once again approach the Hareidim if Lapid doesn’t start to back down from all his demands.

Another rumor is that HaBayit HaYehudi (Jewish Home) is getting frustrated and angry at Lapid, and feel he is taking advantage of the strength they’ve given him with their alliance.

The rumors are saying that Likud-Beytenu will leave Lapid out of the coalition, and are specifically not mentioning HaBayit HaYehudi in that threat.

On Tuesday night, a senior member of Shas was supposedly called in to meet the Prime Minister. The rumors say it was either Aryeh Deri or Eli Yishai.

Netanyahu might have called the senior Shas member in to pressure Lapid, or alternatively, Netanyahu might actually be trying to form a coalition without Lapid, if he believes that Lapid is trying to drag the country to new elections.

Another rumor, which would be very significant if true, is that Labor leader Sheli Yachimovitch secretly met with Shas spiritual leader, Rav Ovadia Yosef, Tuesday evening.

With just days left, anything could be happening at this point.

Knesset Member Peretz Suspected of Vote-Buying

Tuesday, March 5th, 2013

Two Knesset Members from the last Knesset’s Labor party were involved in vote-buying in the party’s 2012 primaries, according to Yediot Acharonot. Labor leader Shelly Yechimovich named one of them as Amir Peretz, who ditched Labor to run with Tzipi Livni’s party in the January general elections.

She told Army Radio Tuesday that she knows that one of those being probed by police is Peretz, and the Labor party issued a statement condemning vote buying. The other suspect, currently as Labor MK, was not named.

Peretz vehemently denied the accusations, called them libel and characterized Yechimovich as a bad person.

Last week, police said they are investigating similar charges against Knesset Member Nissim Slomiansky of the Jewish Home party. Party chairman Naftali Bennett suspected him of vote-buying because of his stunning victory in the recent election even though he was not supported by Bennett.

Bennett’s Unholy Alliance with Lapid

Friday, February 15th, 2013

I’m not going to pretend I was satisfied with the Likud’s election campaign, or even all of Prime Minister’s Netanyahu’s policies/positions over the last four years (e.g., Bar Ilan, the freeze, etc.). But in the past four years, we’ve had, first of all, a government that lasted  just about four years, which is quite an achievement in and of itself in Israel. And we’ve managed to stave off international pressure while getting sanctions in place against Iran. At the same time we’ve had modest domestic achievements, keeping the economy stable despite a global crisis and lowering the monthly cost of living.

Yet, leading up to the elections, I was shocked by how many people were so ready to abandon the Likud and Netanyahu, despite the fact that they knew only he could be Prime Minister and would need a strong showing for the Likud-Beitenu slate in order to have a stable center of gravity for his coalition.

On the day of election, I argued that weakening the Likud-Beitenu, even if by voting for the Jewish Home, to Netanyahu’s right, will actually strengthen whatever left-of-center party will join the government. That’s because even if “the right” has a majority of the Knesset, even 65 seats, a stable government requires more than that. Netanyahu will have no choice, just as he did after the last election, but to bring at least one party from the left in to stablize the coalition. Otherwise any coalition partner could bring down the government.

As the Likud-Beitenu dropped in support, that became more and more true, since the less seats it would have the more vital each coalition partner would be. While that would make Jewish Home more vital to the coalition, it would also have a similar affect on the other parties. The only method Netanyahu has of neutralizing that problem is by bringing in more parties. Practically, the weaker Likud-Beitenu was, the more necessary a left-wing party would become to the coalition. That party was Yesh Atid, which seems to be the most centrist of the sizable left-wing parties.

That prediction, or actually warning, came true with a vengeance. Not only did the Likud lose seven mandates worth of votes to Jewish Home (Jewish Home got 12 and Power to Israel got two, for a total of 14 – seven mandates greater then these two parties represented in the prior Knesset), but Yesh Atid almost doubled in size, going from a predicted 10 to 19 mandates.

So, predictably, Netanyahu’s first post-election call was to Yair Lapid.

At that point Netayahu had two realistic possibilities for a right-of-center coalition: Likud-Beitenu-Jewish Home-Yesh Atid+Shas (with a moderate Haredi-draft plan) for a 72 seat coalition OR  Likud-Beitenu-Jewish Home-Shas-UTJ-Livni-(Kadima) for a 67-69 seat coalition without Lapid (unclear draft plan, but relatively decent foreign policy positions).

(A Likud-Beitenu-Jewish Home-Shas-UTJ coalition would amount to 62 seats, would result in do-nothing government, with a bad budget, and might even fall by the time the next budget came up).

When it became clear that Lapid’s demands were too inflexible, making Shas unwilling to join the coalition, meaning the first option was not going to happen, the second option became more necessary. So Liberman went about trying to make it happen, meeting with the Jewish Home. Talks began with Livni as well. But then Bennett and Lapid formed an alliance:  Bennett would not join the government, unless Lapid also joined.

Practically, that means that Netanyahu can’t form a government without Lapid. It also means that Lapid will be strengthened in his demands, specifically his universal draft plan (which sees lowering the amount of yeshiva-exemptions to a mere 400, lower than it was in the early years of the state) and Shas and UTJ will not sit in the government. Lapid will be doubly strengthened in his demand for a renewed focus on the peace process (he still clings to Golda Meir’s non-sense slogan of, you only make peace with your enemies), because not only does he have more leverage with Netanyahu, but also because Netanyahu will need to bring in more left-wing partners to stabilize the coalition, such as Tzipi Livni who demands that she lead a renewed negotiation effort.

Netanyahu tried to break the alliance by offering Bennett virtually everything he wanted prior to elections – greater say over government guidelines and ministries – in exchange for being the first party to join the coalition. That would have weakened Lapid’s position and forced him to moderate. But Bennett refused.

Will the Likud Remain Democratic?

Thursday, February 14th, 2013

One piece of political news that probably went unnoticed to most, especially among all the coalition-negotiation rumors, was that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is considering cancelling the Likud’s primaries.

An article about this was first published on Jan. 28th,  just after the Knesset election on Israel’s Walla news site. Then, over the last few days it sprung up again in Ma’ariv/NRG and Yediot. Another Feb. 10 article in Ma’ariv claims that the Prime Minister intends to have the primaries cancelled before ministers are sworn into the government – that is, potentially in a matter of weeks.

To most people this is just internal party politics, but it’s really not. It directly affects the democratic nature of the State of Israel. In Israel, voters do not choose individual candidates, they choose slates. In effect, there are 120 legislators, but not a single representative. The candidates themselves are chosen via internal party processes – sometimes by a committee – a larger “central committee” or a smaller secretariat or selection committee – sometimes by the chairman, sometimes by the membership in an open primary. Those primaries are the only opportunity a citizen has to vote for an actual legislator, the only time a legislator directly faces a citizen and is held accountable for his record.

Unfortunately, only a few parties hold primaries. Likud and Labor do. This past election cycle, the Jewish Home held primaries, but only half of its list was chosen in the primaries, the rest by the central committee of T’kuma/the National Union. Kadima held primaries for its chairman, but cancelled its primaries for its list because it was expected to only get a maximum of 3 seats (in the end it got two). In total, about 42-3 Members of Knesset were chosen in primaries, meaning about  1/3rd of Knesset Members were chosen by actual people and not by party bosses. Even more unfortunate, is the fact that only a small percentage, something like three percent, of the public is eligible to vote in a party primary, and even less actually do vote.

But still it’s a start. If Israel won’t change over to a district-based electoral system (one representative per district), the only hope for the Members of Knesset being chosen by the people is through the primaries.

The alleged reason for cancelling primaries is, reportedly, that there are those who believe that the Likud’s list was too right-wing and that cost it votes and at the same time, not all party members voted for the party. Or in other words, the “settlers” registered to the party to push candidates like Tzipi Hotovely, Danny Danon, Ze’ev Elkin, Yariv Levin and Moshe Feiglin. The problem with that allegation is that there are many factions within the party who behave this way (like unions and members registered by vote contractors); there probably was a higher voting rate among settlers who were registered for the Likud then those who weren’t;  and of the 11 seats the Likud-Beytenu list lost from its prior standing the Knesset, seven mandates worth of votes went to the right. Any internal party player, especially the Prime Minister knows all this.

It is true though that the primaries are intensely manipulated – by the various factions/MKs/branch chairmen/vote contractors (vote contracting, as I have explained elsewhere refers to the practice of registering people to the party and then kind of bargaining with their votes for personal gain). This is a huge problem. But this manipulation can only take place because so few people are registered to the party. Many of them are registered by internal players, who can trade on their votes.

If, on the other hand, a million or 500,000 people  instead of 120,000 were registered to the Likud, and those people were registered by the party itself and not for any specific internal party player, it would be too hard for any vote contractor or even group, such as a union, to register and control the numbers necessary to manipulate the system. Vote contracting in its current powerful form, would be a thing of the past.

That would require an immense registration effort by the party over several years. That is very possible. In Israel, however, long term solutions, are not the preferred solutions. It’s easier and more seductive to maneuver one’s way to power, which in this case may mean canceling the primaries and concentrate power in the hands of an even smaller group of people.

A Nation’s Search For Meaning

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

In his book, Man’s Search for Meaning, renowned psychologist Victor Frankel attributed his survival in the death camps to his feeling that his life had meaning. Those who lost that feeling of significance died.

It is not only people who need a sense of meaning; nations also need it – particularly the nation of Israel.

The search for meaning was the undercurrent that inspired last week’s elections. It wasn’t the economy or security. It certainly wasn’t the universal draft issue.

“Zionism has nothing to do with religion,” declared the First Zionist Congress. In a way, the Congress was right. Religion suits the community or family structure. It is a type of mobile Judaism that can be packed into one’s knapsack after the inevitable pogrom. Return to sovereign statehood requires much more than religion: It requires a return to an all-inclusive Jewish culture.

What content has filled the renewal of Zion in our days? We all know that without some common vision, society disintegrates. What meaning will there be to our national renaissance without the foundations of our shared faith?

All the debates at the start of Zionism revolved around that question. The Socialists won in a knockout. It was the Labor Party that presided over the establishment of the state of Israel and led it until the mid-‘70s. The Right never put forth an alternative vision. It adhered to the practical aspects of Zionism – settlement and security – without ever attempting to infuse meaning into its actions. Socialism collapsed along with the Soviet Union in the ‘80s, and when the Left was elected to lead Israel in the ‘90s, it rode the wave of “international brotherhood” alone. The socialist vision was replaced with the peace vision.

Twenty years later, we are at the end of the Oslo era. Israeli society has suffered a bloody awakening from the peace illusion, the public arena is void of any vision, and our national soul thirsts for meaning. It turns out that our national existence has no meaning if it is detached from its foundations in Jewish identity and faith – interwoven with modernity.

The Likud – the nationalist party with the glorious history, Jabotinsky’s teachings, and the popular connection to Jewish tradition – has all that it needs to infuse our society with meaning. But all of those important components were tucked out of sight in last week’s elections. The fact that the Likud did not even publicize its platform was no mistake: “We’re going to win anyway, so why get into arguments?” was the dubious logic behind that decision. And the nationalist ruling party turned itself into a party of suit-wearers with a negative campaign and no message or meaning.

On both sides of the Likud, parties that proposed a new agenda flourished. They have not yet infused their messages with real meaning, but at least one of them, Jewish Home, provided the scent of Jewish content as it quickly climbed to a projected 18 seats in the polls (it won 12 seats in the elections) – almost half of its support coming from non-observant voters.

Initially, the public was surprised when polls showed that a large number of voters were debating between Naftali Bennett’s Jewish Home and Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid. Likud consultants expected the base attack on the Jewish Home to bring six secular mandates back to the Likud – but that didn’t happen. The Likud, which had fled from its own message and did not provide society with any type of meaning, did not garner those votes. If the Jewish agenda was suddenly unacceptable, those voters could easily vote for lack of meaning in more attractive packaging. No need to go back to voting for the lack of meaning offered by the old suits.

That is how Lapid’s party became the second largest party in Israel, while the Likud found itself shrunk and hunkering down between two fresh-faced parties advocating a new national agenda: one a civil agenda, and the other a Jewish-oriented agenda. Neither party provides meaning at this point. They are both too preoccupied with the “how” and not the “why” or “to where.”

If we in the Likud will understand the deep reason for our party’s decline; if we will refresh our ranks and provide the public with a new vision and a national answer to the “why” and “to where” – we will retrieve the votes that went to our younger sisters, and continue to securely lead Israel with our national vision.

From the US to Israel, Conservatives Stumble

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013

The disastrous results in Israel’s election are yet another example of the Right cannibalizing itself. It’s not the first time this happened in Israeli political history or American political history or European political history. It’s an ongoing theme whose motto is still, “No enemies to the left.”

What the “mainstream” conservatives fear most of all is a drift to the right. Some of this is the whimper of whipped dogs. Every party to the right of Stalin has had to spend decades fending off accusations that it was the second coming of the Third Reich, the KKK and Genghis Khan. The Pavlovian training has taken hold and every conservative echelon is expert at going into damage control mode when it senses that its own right might do something that would give the left fuel for their accusations.

But there’s another factor at work here. It’s cultural. Mainstream conservatives have become another arm of the urban technocracy. They want many of the same things that liberals do, but with less regulations and more tax shelters. They aren’t interested in major changes, only the minor ones that will keep the system going. Even when they are dedicated reformers, their vision extends no further than a bunch of high tech cities full of immigrants going to universities and then inventing things.

They are competent, rather than imaginative. The Left repeatedly outmaneuvers them because the Left is always pushing to the Left, while they are content to put a chair against the door and wait for those crazy hippies to get off the LSD, cut their hair and give up. But to their surprise the Left never does.

The leaders of mainstream conservatism aren’t angry, and they dismiss the people who are as loons. When the left does something oppressive or defeats them, they don’t get mad, they get ironically amused. They make detached observations citing Trollope. They are as much a part of the jet setting elite, as their liberal colleagues, and they have an exit strategy, whether it’s Singapore or Thailand.

They aren’t liberals themselves, but their conservatism is an outmoded thing that was only fit for a conservative society. In a conservative society, they are the old guard. In a liberal society, they are still the old guard, standing for the values of moderation, civility and not getting too worked up about things that can’t be changed. In a liberal society, what they conserve is not conservatism, but the liberalism of their youth.

The one thing that worries them is the ascendance of the right. They don’t much like their own base. It’s angry, noisy and ignorant. It doesn’t understand the rules of the game. And it represents a threat to their careers.

They may draw cartoons and sing a few songs, but they aren’t revolutionaries. They don’t want a culture war. And they don’t really want to change the way things are. They may not approve of the politics of their children, and they gasp in horror at debt ratios and proposals to privatize things, but overall they like the way things are. And they imagine that it can remain that way, hanging forever in mid-air, never going further left or further right, a perfect balance that will endure for all time.

They have a simple arrangement with the Right. They pledge allegiance, faintly, to its beliefs, mouth the right words during elections, promise to ban abortion, build settlements, and then they shake their heads ruefully and go back to the club regretting the necessity for participating in this clown show. Between elections they sometimes put their intellectual firepower at the disposal of these ideas, though never when these ideas appear to be polling badly, especially with the young.

In exchange the Right, the real Right, those angry people with quaint ideas about personal freedom, moral revival and national greatness, are expected to know their place. And their place is behind the sawhorses at the rally and in line at the voting booth. When that changes, then they attack their own right with far more vehemence and violence than they ever employ against the Left.

The Left does not worry them all that much. In a way the left has become their career. The opposition defines their work. Its radicalism ensures that they will always have a base, no matter where that base comes from.

The Future Coalition and the Israeli Right

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013

So the final results are almost completely tallied and it’s pretty bad for the right-wing, especially Likud-Beitenu, despite the fact that the Benjamin Netanyahu will likely form the next government.

The only threat to Netanyahu forming the government is a joint Shas-Lapid boycott. Likud-Beitenu and Jewish Home comprise 43 seats. Shas and UTJ (17) bring it up to 61 or Lapid (19) will bring it up to 62. Only if Lapid, Shas and UTJ (or even Lapid and Shas) boycott Netanyahu will Netanyahu not be able to form the government. That scenario would also require Livni and Yachimovitch and Lapid to agree on making one of these three their candidate for Prime Minister, which is even more unlikely. Also, Shas publicly endorsed Netanyahu for Prime Minister in an advertisement prior to the elections, apparently counting on the fact that Lapid will compromise on a universal draft.

Nevertheless, for Netanyahu to form a stable coalition (closer to 70 seats) he would need to Shas and/or UTJ compromise with a plan to draft Hareidim, as he said in his “victory” speech last night that he plans to make a priority and because Lapid is now too large to ignore, especially relative to a weak Likud.

Kadima – which escaped what would have been a well-deserved political death – could be another leftist party which Netanyahu could bring on board to strengthen the coalition, especially if Shas will not join.  This would bring the coalition up to 64 seats, that’s still not that stable, but at least Kadima won’t be able to ask for much with it’s meager two seats.

That would mean giving Mofaz something that Mofaz would feel will make him and Kadima relevant until the next elections, perhaps some lessor ministry or as a minister without portfolio. (Mofaz’s other options to survive through the next elections are (a) to somehow re-establish himself outside the government, which is unlikely; (b) to rejoin the Likud with his tail between his legs, which is also unlikely considering how he treated Netanyahu after Netanyahu brought him into the coalition before; (c) merge with another left-wing party which would be equally embarrassing for him and also unprofitable for the other party; or, (d) wait for Olmert to return and save him).

Some other thoughts:

* The success of Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid in garnering 19 mandates, making it the second largest of all parties is the biggest surprise of the election. It’s almost twice as high as Lapid polled before the elections and 19 more than Lapid had before as this is his first election. Like Liberman before, Lapid will likely be Netanyahu’s major partner as under almost any coalition figuration Yesh Atid can bring down the coalition.

* The Jewish Home’s success was not as great as predicted but it was still quite an achievement to garner 12 Knesset seats. The joint Jewish Home-National Union list represented only seven seats in the outgoing Knesset and only a few months ago hoped to get up to 10 seats in the next Knesset. Kudos to them for running a great campaign, including Anglo candidate Jeremy Gimpel who chaired the English-speakers campaign and Jeremy Saltan who was the English-speaker’s campaign manager, despite the fact that Gimpel himself will not be in the next Knesset.

* The Likud-Beitenu’s drop from 42 seats in the outgoing Knesset to 31 in the next is the second biggest surprise. Liberman said last night that he does not regret the merger: Of course he doesn’t, his party only dropped to 11 seats in the Knesset, from 15, despite the fact that he has been indicted, based on testimony from one of his former lieutenants and was absent during the campaign.

The Likud on the other hand lost its upward momentum and now comprises only 20 Knesset seats (only one more than newcomer Lapid). That’s quite an embarrassment for the what is supposed to be the leading party in Israel.

Not that Liberman/the merger should take all the blame. The campaign was terrible from almost every angle – functionally and strategically – and Netanyahu’s no-risk political philosophy may also be to blame for failing to motivate new voters, even though it is good for managing a coalition and providing much-needed stability to the country.

* The “Right” as a whole lost out. Instead of 65 seats (or more, even up to 71 according to some polls), it now has 61. And, remember, the right-wing bloc is not necessarily all right-wing. UTJ is only right-wing on religious issues. On Judea and Samaria, standing up to the international community and economic issues, it is to the left. Shas is also to the left on economic issues and with Aryeh Deri back at the helm it is not clearly to the right when it comes to security-territory issues. Even without Deri, Shas was the prop that kept the Olmert government together after the Second Lebanon War. So really the Right has only 43 reliable seats (Likud-Beitenu + Jewish Home).

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/hadar/the-future-coalition-and-the-israeli-right/2013/01/23/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: