Israeli Election Preview

by Noah Glyn

Israel will hold an election for the Knesset tomorrow. Typically, the president of Israel (currently Shimon Peres) asks the leader of the political party with the most votes to form a coalition; in 2009, however, Tzipi Livni was unable to form a governing coalition, even after her Kadima party won the plurality of the votes. Instead, Benjamin Netanyahu got a second chance at the premiership. According to recent polls, Netanyahu’s expected to win another election and remain prime minister.

Here’s a brief overview of the five most prominent Israeli political parties and how they’ll likely fare tomorrow:

Likud: Netanyahu likely secured his reelection when he forged a coalition with former foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu party. Netanyahu only faced token opposition for the Likud leadership position; Lieberman has since resigned the foreign minister, and he isn’t running in this election. Polls are predicting that Likud will win about 34 seats, which would make it the top vote-getter. (The Knesset has 120 seats.)

Labor: Ehud Barak and Amir Peretz have led the once mighty Labor party in recent years, but Labor went in a new direction with Shelly Yachimovich. Unlike Barak and Peretz, who were both defense ministers, Yachimovich focuses more intensely on social issues, such as affordable housing. Labor will likely receive just under 20 seats in the next Knesset.

HaBayit HaYehudi: Neftali Bennett’s new party is the biggest surprise of this year’s election. Bennett is a highly accomplished man — an elite soldier, Netanyahu’s former chief of staff, a successful businessman and entrepreneur — who has used tough, right-wing rhetoric without alienating large swaths of the population. Bennett’s party will likely receive just north of 15 seats in the new Knesset. HaBayit HaYehudi has been, however, gaining steam, much to the dismay of liberal Jews everywhere. Don’t count out a last minute boost.

Hatnuah: Tzipi Livni is a well known figure within Israeli politics, but this is now her third political party in recent years: First she was a Likudnik, then a devoted member of Kadima, and now, after losing Kadima’s leadership, she has formed a new party. Livni is still the great moderate hope for people wishing to restart the peace process. Her party will likely receive a little more than ten seats in Knesset. 

Yesh Atid: Former newsman Yair Lapid quit journalism and entered politics. The political newcomer formed a party of neophyte legislators. Yesh Atid is slightly left-leaning, but the party is also attempting to cast a wide net over the Israeli populace. Polls suggest that Yesh Atid will likely win about ten seats, not bad for its first election. 

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