Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Exit Polls: Likud first with Yesh Atid a strong second

by Clifford F. Thies

The exit poll indicates that Benjamin Netanyahu's temporarily combined Likud-Yisrael Beiteinu Party did indeed finish first, but with fewer seats, 31, than was expected a few weeks ago. The surprise result was the strong second place showing by Yair Lapid's new Yesh Atid Party (candidate photos), a secular and centrist party, 19 seats. We first commented on Lapid in May 2012: LR "Israeli politics Livini quits Kadima"

In terms of ideological blocs, the right-wing appears to have the advantage:

Likud (conservative secular) - 31

Shas (orthodox, sephardic) - 13

Neftali Bennet's Jewish Home (conservative religious) - 12

United Torah Judaism (orthodox, sephardic) - 6

TOTAL - 62 (61 needed for a majority)


Yair Lapid's Yesh Atid (centrist) - 19

Labor (center-left) - 17

Meretz (left-socialist) - 6

Tzipi Livni's Hatnua (centrist) - 6

TOTAL - 48


Hadash (Arab-communist) - 4

Ra'am (Arab-socialist) - 4

Ballad (Arab-liberal) - 2

TOTAL - 10
Negotiations leading, hopefully, to a new government can easily produce a surprise.

First, Lapid has signaled a willingness to join a Netanyahu government, but not for a meaningless "minister without portfolio." Besides, with his strong showing, he is in position to receive concessions on his priorities among which is re-examining the exemption of the orthodox from military service. Likud + Jewish Home (which has signaled a willingness to re-visit the exemption) + Yesh Atid would constitute a majority, albeit, a very thin majority; and, furthermore, would have a certain balance which Netanyahu has always coveted, perhaps only out of necessity.

Second, Shas has always been willing to play kingmaker in return for concessions. The Center + Left Parties + Shas would have 60 or maybe 61 or 62 seats, depending on the actual count of the vote. But, the problem with such an assemblage of parties is that Lapid, the supposed "top dog" in the group, would have to concede on an issue (the exemption) he has made a priority.

UPDATE: In post-election statements, Netanyahu talked about forming a broad coalition In particular, he reached out to Lapid. “We have the opportunity to do great things for the good of the Israeli people," Netanyahu said. He also included "a more equitable burden" for defense as a pillar of his new government.

The leader of the Labor Party on the other hand, sounded like a Trotskyite, opposing the extreme right-wing government and the evil capitalist system.

In the tabulation of the actual vote, so far it looks as though some of the smaller parties projected to win some seats in the exit polls will fall short of the 2 percent threshold. This will result in more seats being awarded to the larger parties.


John Morris said...

Holy crap is Israeli politics complicated

Storm D said...

If you think we have voter fraud, go to a polling place in Israel's Arab towns. There you will find people being allowed to vote more than once. An Arab man comes in and asks if he can vote for his wife, oldest son, brother, etc, and the Arab election judge allows it.