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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

"Honor [the people's] decision!"

These were the words spoken by Kadima Chairman Tzipi Livni late last night... and for once I agree with her!

Of course, one has to keep in mind that her party received only one more mandate than the rival Likud in the Knesset elections... far from a decisive victory. 

And it also bears a mention that this declaration of victory comes well before all the votes from soldiers and government officials serving abroad have been counted (and a full week before the final tally has been certified).  But yes, strictly speaking, Kadima seems to have edged Likud in the number of seats each respectively won. 

But just for fun, let's take a peek at 'the people's decision': 

As it stands now, Kadima garnered just 28 mandates... not even 25% of the 120 possible Knesset seats, and only one seat more than Likud (for now).  However when one backs up far enough to look at the right/left split of the overall votes cast by the people, their choice is overwhelmingly in favor of the political right over the left... with left wing parties garnering only 55 mandates to the right's 65.

Add to that the fact that the Labor party (the second largest party on the left), stinging from a sad showing of only 13 mandates, seems inclined to sit in opposition regardless of the wooing that will be going on this week... as well as the fact that some of the Arab parties (with their 11 combined mandates) won't necessarily want to sit in a coalition with Kadima once Livni starts courting Leiberman and the small religious Jewish parties... and the 'people's decision' becomes even clearer.

So yes, while I am in full agreement with Ms. Livni's statement (for once), I don't think she has yet grasped the fact that the people have decided that they overwhelmingly prefer the policies, platforms and parties of the political right to those of the left. 

I hope she will take her own advice and honor their decision.

Posted by David Bogner on February 11, 2009 | Permalink


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It is all talk from Kadima. I don't see how Livni can make a government. Just do the math, how does she get from 28 to 61.

Labor it seems, will really go to the opposition. if so she has 0 chance. Even if she convinces Lieberman to join her she is way short:

28 (Kadima)
15 (Lieberman)

Where does she get another 18 seats from.

Even with Labor she is still 5 seats short.

For more see this post of mine Post election analysis

Posted by: Marty Bluke | Feb 11, 2009 11:14:27 AM

Last night, as the exit polls were coming in, Yuli Tamir and another Labor MK were talking about sitting in the opposition, and I said to myself "if Livni can't get Labor into a coalition, Kadima's in deep trouble."

Posted by: Lena | Feb 11, 2009 12:05:47 PM

What the people have decided is that Livni will get an *opportunity* to form a coalition. Her chances of succeeding are very slim, but she has won the chance to try it before anyone else does.

In the end though it seems pretty clear that Bibi will be the next Prime Minister. Even WITH Labor, Kadima doesn't have enough potential partners, and meanwhile Bibi could make a coalition TODAY, while napping.

Personally I wish that people would stop voting for tiny parties; all those votes to smaller parties could have made the victory more decisive for one side or the other, and we wouldn't be sitting around for the next couple of weeks waiting for Livni to admit that she doesn't have enough support from other parties to make it work.

Will be interesting to see how it all plays out.

Posted by: Sarah B. | Feb 11, 2009 12:41:36 PM

Marty Bluke ... Simply put, she can't. Under the best of circumstances the party charged with forming the coalition has to sell its soul in order to get enough partners on board. But for Kadima to get 61+ she would have to lie to all her coalition partners.

Lena ... I actually predict that Barak will try to hook up with someone to be in the government for the simple reason that he is arguably the most self-interested politician in Israeli politics today. He has gotten used to being a minister and the prospect of sitting in the cramped offices downstairs at the Knesset must be killing him.

Sarah B.... actually that's not really true. There is no law that says the President has to ask the party with the most mandates to try to form the government. He can ask whoever he feels has the best chance of quickly forming a stable government. Those two factors (quick and stable) are of paramount importance.

Posted by: David Bogner | Feb 11, 2009 12:49:53 PM

Actually, the left bloc that Livni has to work with doesn't include the Arab parties at all. It's not just that the Arab parties will not wish to be in a government with Lieberman, but that Kadima cannot even consider having them in its coalition, if they ever want to win a future election. All the Arab parties are non-Zionist and some are even openly anti-Zionist supporters of Israel's enemies.

Posted by: Imshin | Feb 11, 2009 2:09:00 PM

It seems to be Pyrrhic victory, simply because all the drew votes only from the left (Pensioners, Meretz, Avodah), all in all losing one mandate (from 29 to 28). Meanwhile Likud went from 12 to 27 and Lieberman went from 11 to 15.

The only parties to lose mandates on the right were Shas (lost 1) and Mafdal-Ihud Leumi (lost 2). Meanwhile the left (including Pensioners) lost 16.

Whatever coalition is formed the government will no longer follow the agenda of the left.

Posted by: aschoichet | Feb 11, 2009 2:59:11 PM

The Arab parties would never agree to sit in a coalition with Kadima period. The Arab parties do not coalition with zionist parties and they declared their intention to not coalition with either Kadima or Likud well before the election.

I think it is somewhat of a misnomer, however, to say that because someone voted for Y.B. for instance, which is a rightist party, that they have ANYTHING in common including political interests with those who voted for Shas, another rightist party. Indeed, the opposite is true. Voters for Y.B. are secular, want civil marriage, and want the same loyalty oaths and requirement of national service to apply equally to the Haredim as to the Arabs. They want to cut off the funding to the Haredim more than they want it cut off to Arabs. That is fundamental to the party and all of those are anathema, and indeed, opposite, to the platform of Shas. Voting Kadima is voting for the right for goodness sakes (which I did and I'm still in shock that I could ever make myself cast a vote for the right. Does not mean I cast any modicum of support for Bibi and Likud --completely the opposite).

Posted by: Yaeli | Feb 11, 2009 3:16:50 PM

Yaeli ... You know that I respect you so please take what I am about to say in the spirit in which it is offered: Kadima can only be considered right wing by someone who considers Meretz a centrist party. There is not a single plank in their platform (other than their puzzling use of the word 'Zionist') that could be even remotely considered rightist. People often confuse the presence of former Likudnikim in their list as a sign of Kadima's rightist bonifides. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Likudnikim who defected to join Kadima proved that they were not ideological rightists by embracing the platform on which the Labor party had been defeated in the previous elections. They were a one-issue party (disengagement from the Arabs) whose only test-case turned out to be a tremendous miscalculation. I agree with you that the parties on the right are far from a unified 'bloc', but it is much more viable than what Tzipi has to work with on the Left. How about this: Likud (27), Israel Beteinu (15), Labor (13), National Union (4) and Jewish Home (3)? That would give Bibi a nice just-right-of-center government (with Labor as the check to keep them from drifting too far right) made up of 62 mandates... with the Haredim, Arabs and Kadima sitting in opposition. It works for me!

Posted by: David Bogner | Feb 11, 2009 3:47:01 PM

I don't agree that there is a strong right wing block. The 4 leading parties (Kadima, Likud and Labor) are all centrist with very little substantial difference between them. Any such differences are largely cosmetic. And that's why none of them managed to sway a genuine majority.

Posted by: QuietusLeo | Feb 11, 2009 4:22:02 PM

That should read: "Of the 4 leading parties, 3 are centrist."
Durn typoes.

Posted by: QuietusLeo | Feb 11, 2009 4:23:59 PM

Lieberman is also centrist. Read his platform. Only right wing in economics.

Labour isn't going to be in the next government, and if it is persuaded in the end, it certainly won't be persuaded to sit with Ichud Leumi. No way. Not going to happen.

Posted by: Imshin | Feb 11, 2009 4:52:56 PM

Hey David. Quick question. How do you bring Labor into a coalition without Barak demanding the Defense Ministry? He already proved he can't hack it...why would Bibi want to put him into that role again? I can't see Labor coming in without that being a condition. Just curious.

Posted by: Joshua K | Feb 11, 2009 5:38:38 PM

You mentioned, in passing, the yet to be counted soldiers' votes. I've seen it written/theorized that that bloc will likely be skewed significantly more right-wing than the average overall vote, and than therefore Likud will actually end up tied with or even a seat up on Kadima. Is there any truth to that?

Posted by: Elie | Feb 11, 2009 6:05:16 PM

Following the Gaza War, Barak is an extremely popular defense minister. It would be a wise move on Bibi's side to get him to come back as defense minister again, if he could pull it off.

But he won't be able to. Labor knows their only chance of political resurrection after yesterday's truly humiliating outcome is a stint in opposition.

Posted by: Imshin | Feb 11, 2009 6:07:18 PM

Dave, I hate to rain on anyone's parade but we are talking about politicians there is no ideology just maintenance of power.

Posted by: dave | Feb 11, 2009 6:34:38 PM

Trepp with all due respect --and Meretz is a far-left party, Labour being center-left -- I strongly disagree. Kadima is only left in relation to Likud but is in no way, shape or form, a Leftist party. I've put up a (granted half-poking fun) breakdown of the different rightist party platforms http://olehgirl.com/?p=2004 and clearly Shas and UTJ share not just zip in common with Y.B. but are polar opposites. Kadima and Y.B. share more in common than do Y.B. and Likud. The only difference between Kadima and Likud regarding the Palis is the split or not split Jerusalem issue.

Posted by: Yael | Feb 11, 2009 7:18:53 PM

Bibi seems to want a broad coalition to withstand internal and external pressure. The biggest roadblock is Livni who thinks she deserves to be PM. The majority of Kadima MK`s probably favor being part of the coalition with Bibi as PM.,rather than being in the opposition.

Posted by: Ed | Feb 11, 2009 8:16:09 PM

The best coalition for Lieberman would be Likud, Kadima, and Yisroel Beitenu. It gives Lieberman everything he wants. Civil marriage, election reform and security. Bibi also would be thrilled, it would be a very easy coalition to maintain and no budgetary demands. The only question is will Livni agree? When she realizes that she has no chance of making a government maybe she will go for it.

Posted by: Marty Bluke | Feb 11, 2009 11:01:22 PM

Not to be completely cynical, but almost none of the politicians really care what the people want.

Until a government is formed, I don't trust any of them not to sell their souls, and our votes, to the devil! (ok, that might be a little over the top, but you get my drift)

Posted by: Rivka with a capital A | Feb 11, 2009 11:36:15 PM

A Likud/Kadima/Yisroel Beitenu coalition could be very interesting. But... the most interesting thing would be that without any small parties (they would have about 70 mandates among the three of them), they could probably pass some election reforms, of the type that Shas keeps blocking. Raising the threshold to 5% (or even 8%) would be in the interests of all three, and would all but eliminate the small parties.

Posted by: Russ | Feb 12, 2009 12:03:31 AM

Tell me again how the USA two(one)party system is better than the Israeli free-for-all that is Parliament. I forgot!


Posted by: Wry Mouth | Feb 12, 2009 4:42:02 AM

Government of National Unity - Coming up!

Posted by: Rami | Feb 12, 2009 8:14:37 AM


There aren't elections every 2 years and things can actually get done.

In Israel there is no way to do anything of significance because there is always someone in the coalition who will be opposed.

Posted by: Marty Bluke | Feb 12, 2009 2:37:01 PM


"There aren't elections every 2 years and things can actually get done."

I think we're about to find out that that is not necessarily a positive... although I hope to be proven wrong. ;o/

Posted by: Wry Mouth | Feb 12, 2009 9:26:25 PM

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