Does anyone in Israel remember that concept called the electoral platform of a political party in view of an election process? Those proposals of a political, economic and social nature, raised by the parties in their declarations of principles and described in their action programs that they promise to carry out with their election. Does the average citizen remember the heated debates around the religion-state relationship, economic policies, distribution of national income, discrimination of minorities, conflict with the Palestinians, the Iranian threat, economic growth, the center and the periphery and many others issues that centralized Israeli political discussion? All this was left for the history books. Modern proselytism is characterized by great media efforts aimed at enhancing the personal image of the leader. Likud is no longer being discussed against Avoda or any other party, neither left nor right, but Netanyahu against Lapid, Saar, or Bennet.
This evolution introduced a new element in the attitude of each citizen in front of the ballot box. The election of the ballot no longer necessarily obeys an ideological or programmatic identification with this party or candidate, but is strongly influenced by tactical aspects in their vote. Many come to the conclusion, usually at the last minute, that, in Israel’s parliamentary system, adding a vote in favor of an ideologically distant party can become much more practical if it is to avoid the victory of the detested candidate.
This aspect greatly influences in front of the multiplicity of parties of which an important part borders the minimum limit of 4 seats to enter parliament. The vote for a party that does not reach at least 4 seats is a lost vote. Preliminary polls estimate the existence of 4 to 5 lists with a total electoral potential close to 20 seats (religious Zionism, Blue and White, Raam, Meretz and the New Economic Party of Zelija) of which some will not reach the minimum of 4 benches. Under these conditions, it is very difficult to predict the results of the next election that should be determinate by the identification of party blocs under the dichotomy: “only Bibi” or “anyone beside Bibi.”
Without this nomination representing a determination of the order of probability, based on the polls of voting intention published periodically in the last two months, it is not difficult to predict that Israel’s political future will have to face one of the only three possibilities.
The first possibility would be a “pure right-wing” government as Netanyahu calls it, who would continue as prime minister. Participating parties: Likud, ultra-orthodox religious parties, religious Zionism with the racism of Ben Gvir, and Yemina de Bennet party. This coalition could form a government only if they jointly win at least 61 seats.
The second possibility would be a government based on a coalition of parties under the slogan “anyone beside Bibi” made up of Saar, Bennet, Lapid, Gantz, Liberman, Avoda and perhaps one more from the left or deserters from the bloc “only Bibi” inclusive. of the Likud. The formalization of this coalition, surely, will be an almost impossible mission given the ideological differences of some of its components and the planned battles between the pretenders to the role of prime minister (Lapid, Saar and Bennet).
The third possibility would be a return to the tie impossible to resolve under party negotiations, and consequently a fifth call for elections, a situation that the Israeli citizenry experienced a short time ago.
The determinate factor and who holds the keys to the materialization of the formation of a government “pure right” or based on “anyone beside Bibi” is precisely Bennet. This leader of the Yemina party set two basic slogans in his electoral campaign. “The time has come to replace Netanyahu in the role of prime minister” and, “I will not allow it to be necessary to call new elections for the fifth time.”
In other words, if the bloc with the slogan of the “pure right wing” government receives 61 or more seats, Netanyahu would be in the hands of Bennet. Without him, Bibi cannot form a government. Bennet would pressure Netanyahu to be part of the central leadership of this government under the threat of supporting an adversary bloc government “anyone beside Bibi”. The failed experience of Gantz’s childish political behavior taught many that one should not expect too much from an agreement with Netanyahu that means reducing his position, his authority, and above all his image and his family.
If the “pure right” government bloc receives less than 61 seats, the only remaining possibility of forming a government is through the “anyone beside Bibi” bloc. The realization of this option will persist under the threat of a disagreement between Saar, Bennet and Lapid, and therefore a call for new elections, albeit with the hope of seeing Netanyahu as a retired politician.
Two weeks before the elections, voting intention polls still do not predict a clear outcome to this puzzle. Let no one be surprised by a new and long term for Netanyahu as prime minister of an eternal transitional government.
Herzlya – Israel 9-3-2021