Monday, February 09, 2009

Israeli Elections Tomorrow

Ye Gads. I have not been following things too closely except to realize that:
  1. All three major parties (Labor, Likud, Kedima) have terrible leadership that would be bad for Israel. Bibi (whom, I confess, I have met, schmoozed with, and used to like) is a liar and a fraud; Barak is incompetent (as the 2000 Camp David accords showed and his subsequent botching of the second Intafada); and Livni is feckless and weak).
  2. Note, before looking at the polls, I must emphasize that Israelis generally are underpolled or just outright lie to pollsters. The margin of error is laughable; but it's all we have
  3. That there's been a "shift to the right" in the Israeli electorate is a bit of an understatement... according to Rosner's polls the far-right wing party "Yisrael Beiteinu" is set to be the third largest party!
  4. And combining the total right wing (not counting the pure religious parties) of Likud, Yisrael Beiteinu, National Union, and The Jewish Home = 51! That's 10 short of a majority. Add Shas' 10 (which can be purchased outright if history teaches us anything) and that's the hardest right government in Israel since Bar Kokhba.
  5. The right wing picture above still doesn't take into account Kadima which is a center-right party, which means that (projected) 74 of 120 seats are for the right wing.
  6. Even though it's now *center*-left, Labor leads the bill, but it's projected to have fewer seats than the ultra-right Israel Beiteinu. Gadzooks.
  7. The total left wing? For this list I'm including the Arab parties: Labor + Meretz + Hadash + Ra'am-Ta'al + Balad = 30. Get that? Thirty freakin' left wing seats! This is a seriously wacky year.
  8. Total Religious: Shas + United Torah Judaism = 16
  9. The most fascinating rise/trend is, of course, with Yisrael Beiteinu but it should be put into context of the larger Israeli political landscape. Until the 1990s, the majority of the country has been liberal Ashkenaz/European. Israel was unique (or at least rare - I need to check the Scandinavians) in that the majority party, the ones with all the history and power, were not 'conservative'. In most places, the people who have founded the country and who consequently control the military, industry, and money are politically conservative. Not in Israel. The majority (for lack of better term, I'll use the synechdoche of "Labor") was racist, discriminatory, and didn't listen to the minority (which were the ethnics and religious), but they were also socialist/liberals. The 'right wing' thus were defined by what's usually a minor indicator of conservatism: nationalism, and the left wing kept all the power and dough.
  10. The 1990s brought in a new influx of immigrants but also the rise of power of the ethnics and nationalists due to the fallout from the end of the Cold War (which includes the Oslo Debacle). As a result, the ethnic parties of Shas (Sefardi) and Yisrael Beiteinu (Russian) are predictable. But it's the most fascinating part of Israeli politics. Connect it also to how the sefardim fall into a party that is ethnic plus ultra-orthodox while the Russians have an ethnic plus ultra-nationalist. There's a lesson within that.
  11. What can be learned? Well, based on polls it's likelier to be Netanyahu over Livni and even though fans of euphony would like Barak to be the parallel to Barack, it doesn't look like it will happen.
Full Rosner Poll Numbers [wing & description] (sub-party components):

No comments: