Thursday, March 12, 2015

Foggofwar Prediction: Labor Coalition to Narrowly Win Israeli Parliamentary Elections

Israel's next parliamentary elections happen on March 17th, and a major potential foreign policy shift could happen if Netanyahu's Likud party doesn't win.

Looking at stabilizing opinion polls, I predict that a Labor-led coalition will win, carrying somewhere in the region of 57 to 61 seats (of 120). I think the big X-factors will be whether it can/wants to pick up the communist Hadash party (likely) and the Arab Balad party (maybe?). I suspect they would not take on the Islamist UAL party.

It could be a minority government, but it's likely to hold the day nonetheless.

The Labor coalition would likely look like: Labor, Hatnuah, Yesh Atid, Meretz, Kalanu, and Hadash, which together carry 57 seats in current opinion polls. If they picked up Balad, they would hit 60 or 61 seats, enough for a slim majority.

Since UAL, Ta'al, and Balad (together with 9 seats of support) simply wouldn't join Likud due to their anti-Zionist ideologies, the Likud coalition (Likud, Yisrael Beiteinu, Jewish Home, Shas, UTJ, Otzma, and Yachad) looks primed to hold 54 seats.

The trouble for Labor's coalition is that it would be a bit unwieldy, requiring getting general agreement from socialist/labor, communist, liberal, and Arab parties. The good news is that the smaller groups are so unlikely to jump to support Likud that their bargaining power isn't too high in driving policy (unlike the Lib Dems of the UK, which got to play Kingmaker in the 2010 parliamentary elections there).

Labor might take an approach to end or roll back Israeli settlement of the West Bank, and maybe even lift the blockade on the Gaza Strip. It would be an interesting change in foreign policy, indeed.

We'll keep our eye out if the polls look to change.
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