Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Israeli Election Update; And Corrections

First, some corrections:

I got lazy in deciding to not translate some Hebrew and mis-named Herzog's "Zionist Union" as "Labor," which is inexcusable, though we can think of them similarly.

Second, I also failed to take into account the non-linear seat allocations of the Israeli parliament, so my numbers were way off.

But let's move forward.

With 94% of votes in, Likud has a surprise lead with 29 seats to ZU's 24. This is actually so far off of exit polls showing them both closer to 27 or 28 that I suspect there will be a bit of a change as the last 6% get counted (otherwise the exit pollers put up a disappointing effort).

Let's assume this holds.

The Arab "Joint List" will absolutely not join with Likud, and nor will Yesh Atid--even though they were with Netanyahu's coalition last time, they've insisted that they'll only join a coalition "dedicated to peace," and in Israeli terms, that means the opposition.

Likud can count on Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home), Shas, UTJ, and Yisrael Beytenu, which means Netanyahu's current count is 57--short of the 61 needed.

Herzog's ZU can count on Yesh Atid, Meretz, and the Arab Joint List (due to its stern opposition to Lukid), putting Herzog's count at 53.

It's being said, fairly, that Kalanu (who did better than expected) is poised to play "kingmaker" by joining whatever coalition they please. They're centrist and have worked with Likud in the past, but have made it clear they're willing to go either way.

Netanyahu "has the ball" in being invited to form a coalition, but to some extent it doesn't matter: Herzog has every right to also be courting Kalanu.

Kalanu's moderating force might be very powerful when they make a deal. I'm still predicting Herzog will catch Kalanu and win, primarily because I think that Netanyahu burned too many centrist bridges by pledging to continue building settlements and avowing that Palestine would never become a state: I think it's just too extreme a position to attract Kalanu, but Netanyahu may be willing to back down: he's a shrewd politician and won't let last-minute campaigning declarations keep him out of power.

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