The political map in Israel hasn’t fundamentally changed since a decade ago, when left-wing voters migrated to the center and centrist voters moved right.
The last week has seen feverish speculation about the possibility of early elections in Israel, primarily against the backdrop of infighting about how to handle Gaza. Defense Minister Liberman resigned and the governing coalition teetered; but on Monday the Jewish Home party announced its intention to remain, pulling Israel back from the brink of elections — for the moment. The situation is so volatile that new elections could still be called early — in March or May. At latest, they will be held one year from now, as scheduled, in November 2019.
To understand where Israel might wind up, we need to know what about the political system will not change — and where potential surprises might lie.
What we know
First, the current government has essentially maxed out its four-year term, and Netanyahu will be credited with generating relative stability in Israel’s notorious political jungle. In the past, it was rare for an Israeli government to last even close to a full term.
Second, the ideological splits in the Israeli public have been stable for roughly a dozen years. Seismic shifts during the Second Intifada led to a migration of left-wingers to the self-defined political center. They added to that camp but also replaced some centrists who migrated right, causing the percentage of Jewish right-wingers to drift upward over the decade (from around 40 percent prior to the intifada).
By around 2007, this process was complete. The political map has hardly changed since then. Currently, the portion of all Israelis who call themselves right wing stands at around 46 percent — among the Jewish population, that’s just over half. The number of self-defined centrists is roughly one-quarter, and the portion of left-wingers is stable at about one-fifth (about 14 to 15 percent of the Jewish population). Overall, most polls show a slight plurality of right-wingers, versus the center-left bloc.Read More