Israel: election surprises

Israel: election surprises

Petr Lukimson, Israel. Exclusively to Vestnik Kavkaza

The final results of the parliamentary elections in Israel are still unknown, however even preliminary data contains surprises. The voter turnout is the highest since 1999 – 66.6%, the Central Election Commission of the country reported.

The ruling bloc Likud Beiteinu has gained no more than 32 mandates instead of 35-36 which were promised by exit polls. Thus, it is clear that unification of Likud and Our Home – Israel parties was a mistake which weakened both parties. At the same time, the leader of OHI party Lieberman had no other choice to save the party.

The Labourist party Avoda and religious parties SAS and Yakhadut a-Tora gained a predicted number of mandates – 17, 12, and 6. The Arab parties got 9 instead of usual 10 mandates due to high voting activity in the Jewish sector. The party Bait Jegudi headed by the young leader Naftali Bennet “performed” worse than it was expected and got only 12 mandates. Tnua gained no more than 6-7 mandates, despite expected 9 mandates.

One of surprises was success of the left radical party Merez which stands for fast signing a peacemaking treaty with Palestine on any conditions – it got 6-7 mandates, even though social polls predicted only 3-4 mandates for it.

The biggest surprise was success of the party Esh Atid which is headed by the prominent Israeli journalist Yair Lapid who managed to surpass the success by his father Tomi Lapid in turning journalist into political popularity. Esh Atid got 18-19 mandates and became the second major party of Israel. It seems even Lapid himself didn’t expect such a result.

Now a possible ruling coalition can be formed not only by Benjamin Netanyahu, but also by Yair Lapid, if he establishes a union with Tnua, Meretz, and Avoda. All together they would have about 50 mandates. If these parties are able to agree with the religious party SAS, the left-of-center coalition will be formed.  The problem is that huge personal and ideological confrontations, especially on the economic policy, exist between the leaders of these parties.

The other variant of the coalition is: Likud Beiteinu unites with Yair Lapid. They have about 50 mandates, their foreign political programs are absolutely different, but in the economic sphere they coincide. They need joining Bait Jegudi only and the coalition is formed, this time it is right-of-center. The problem is that Benet and Lapid hate each other and have different views of the foreign policy. This variant of a coalition is very doubtful.

Netanyahu can also establish a coalition with Bait Jegudi and religious parties, but in this case the party of Premier cannot fulfill its promises on recruiting students of religious schools into the army and on the power reform.

Therefore, it is difficult to predict what will happen in the Israeli parliament.

As the result of the elections supporters of recognition by Israel of the Armenian genocide improved their positions, while opponents of it lost influence. One of the main supporters of the idea is the leader of Merez Zakhava Galion who doubled his presence in Knesset. Yair Lapid and members of Avoda have also stated in favor of recognition the Armenian genocide many times. It is difficult to say whether these people realize that such recognition can worsen Israel’s relations with the whole Turkic Speaking world, including important Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan.

It is also notable that the number of the USSR-CIS natives reduced dramatically, while almost no natives of the Caucasus remain in Knesset. The repatriate from Georgia Nino Abesadze takes only the 19th place in the list of Avoda and will hardly get into the parliament. Nalchik’s native Robert Tivyayev also takes an unreal place in Tnua’s list. The party Israelim founded by former Baku residents David Kon and Alex Veksler seems not to get to the parliament at all.

The final results of the elections will be announced today in the morning.


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