Despite the surprising weakness of the Right-ultra-Orthodox bloc, the final result of the elections, according to exit polls, is still likely to be a status-quo Netanyahu-led government. Why? Because the big winner in this election, media personality Yair Lapid, is a vapid centrist who is likely to join Netanyahu’s coalition and make little noise on policy — either on Israel-Palestine, or any other topic
The exit-poll results are in, and Noam has an excellent summary of the headline figures. A lot of the attention, as actual results pour in through the night, will be focused on the balance between the blocs. The common wisdom, based on the polls, was that the Right and the ultra-Orthodox will have something between 64-67 (of 120) seats in the Knesset – a solid majority that was supposed to strengthen Netanyahu’s hand in coalition negotiations.
According to the exit polls, that bloc is actually 61-62 seats, bringing it perilously close to losing its majority. This is a surprising result, especially in light of very low voter turnout among Israeli-Palestinian citizens, who rarely vote for the Right. Yet even if the Right and ultra-Orthodox fall to 60 or slightly below, the outcome might be disappointingly similar to what everyone assumed: a Netanyahu-led government, incorporating some centrist parties.
The basic problem is that the Jewish-Zionist parties of the “Left” or “Center” have never been willing to form a coalition with the non-Zionist Arab parties, or even form a minority coalition relying on their votes. Without the Arab parties, there is no chance that the Center-Left can form a government on its own. That automatically weakens its hand in coalition negotiations.
Furthermore, the Jewish-Zionist Center-Left is currently splintered into two major parties (Labor and Yesh Atid, with 17-19 seats each, according to exit polls) and two smaller parties (Meretz and Hatnua, with 6-7 each, according to the exits). Netanyahu can pick off parts of this bloc at his convenience.
The task is made easier by the most surprising result indicated by the exit polls: the rise of Yesh Atid to become second-largest party after Likud-Beitenu. Yesh Atid is a new party, headed by Yair Lapid, a media personality and the son of late journalist and politician Yosef Lapid, who...Read More