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Israel’s Coalition- 60, Israel’s Opposition- 60

by Shmuel Rosner

December 18, 2013 | 8:13 am

Yair Lapid and Benjamin Netanyahu
Photos by Reuters

As the Israeli coalition is becoming less cohesive and more fractured by the day, our Israel Poll trend tracker is becoming more and more relevant. While we don't expect another round of elections very soon, the coalition is definitely in trouble, and our early prediction that it will not last very long seems even more valid today than it did right after the elections.

One of the things we try to do with the tracker is to give the reader a way to quickly see how the political map is currently divided according to the most recent Israeli polls. But this isn't easy, since Israel has a multi-party system and an ever-changing landscape of political alliances. The so-called right and left "blocs" no longer tell the story of Israel. A division into right-left-religious-Arab is just a little better, but still doesn't take into account the significance of the "center" – whatever that term means ideologically and politically.

Our choice was to give you a division into five blocs: right, center, left, religious, and Arab – but to also do something quite problematic: some of the parties are included in more than one bloc to reflect their ability to be members of more than one political arrangement. Example: Habayit Hayehudi, the Zionist-religious party, is religious and also right-wing, so it is included in both blocs. Of course, such a division makes the picture clearer in the sense that it makes us see more options – but it also blurs it a bit by counting more than 120 Knesset mandates (because Habayit Hayehudi and Hatnua  are counted twice).

Pollster Menachem Lazar of Panels Politics looked at our tables and made a suggestion that we are going to partially adopt. But before we tell you which part we are going to adopt and which part only partially, here's the Lazar bloc division- simpler and more straight forward. Each party is counted only once (naturally, his division refers to the number of mandates counted in PP polls – in our table you can see other polls from other sources as well).

 

Bloc

Parties

Mandates, latest poll

Right

Likud, Habayit Hayehudi

47

Center

Yesh Atid, Hatnua

13

Left

Labor, Meretz

32

Haredi

Shas, United Torah Judaism

17

Arab

Hadash, Balad, Raam-Taal

11

Total

 

120

You can see the advantage: the total is 120 mandates. But you can also see why it can be somewhat misleading- the division into blocs is not exactly perfect, especially so in the case of Habayit Hayehudi and Tzipi Livni's Hatnua, which are not only 'right-wing' and 'center' parties.

But Lazar made another more useful suggestion- he suggested that we add the division between coalition and opposition. That means taking the parties currently in the coalition and counting their mandates, and then taking the parties currently in the opposition and counting theirs. Of course, if the coalition changes this will require a change in the counting method, so it doesn't give as a stable picture of the political map. But it does give us a valuable tool with which to assess the stability of the coalition – when the number of cumulative mandates of the parties in the coalition is lower, this often means a more nervous coalition. On the other hand, it means a coalition whose members don't exactly have an incentive to promote early elections.

The result? Well, just look at the current coalition, which is clearly very tense and at least somewhat dysfunctional (see: the failure of the Bedouin law; the failure to appoint a new head to the Knesset committee on Defense and Foreign Affairs; the constant battle over legislation between Yesh Atid and Habayit Hayehudi that is only getting worse). Looking at Lazar's table of coalition and opposition blocs it is easy to see the reason for all this:

 

Coalition parties

60

Opposition parties

60

So we are going to adopt this idea of looking at the coalition-opposition, making it a permanent feature of the Israel Poll trend tracker. In fact, we are going to make it the most visible part of the tracker, replacing the Netanyahu-Lapid graph that no longer seems very relevant, considering the fact that Lapid's (Yesh Atid's) number of mandates is rapidly declining, and that Lapid himself is not very popular these days (the percentage of Israelis who now see him as a legitimate candidate to be Prime Minister – as he said he wanted to be – is around 3%).

The new version of the tracker – take a look – has a graph showing the coalition vs. the opposition. Our table will remain unchanged for now, but from time to time we will remind you how the table divides the parties into blocs and show you what a simpler division would look like.

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