Jewish Journal


The bloc and the noise

by Shmuel Rosner

December 27, 2012 | 5:16 pm

Benjamin Netanyahu and Avigdor Lieberman (Photo: Reuters)

As readers of Nate Silver's book know, there's noise and there's a signal (it's a great book). In the context of the 2013 Israeli election – or more specifically in the context of the recent days of campaigning in Israel - the noise is the bloc infighting, and the signal is the graph below, Prof. Camil Fuchs' graph. And what you see in this graph is clear: Benjamin Netanyahu and Naftali Bennett can fight with one another as much as they want, Tzipi Livni and Shelly Yacimovich can compete with one another as much as they want, the overall picture of political blocs doesn't change. In fact, this week, quite amazingly, it didn't change by even one tenth of one percent. See the graph, followed by more comments:


Three quick comments:

1. That the bloc infighting doesn't change the overall bloc picture doesn't mean it's meaningless. Netanyahu is battling Bennett for a reason – the more powerful Bennett's Habait Hayehudi Party, the more complicated coalition talks might become. Netanyahu formed Likud Beiteinu – his joint venture with Avigdor Lieberman's party – to have a clear mandate from a party that is much larger than others. His party is indeed going to be much larger than other parties, but it doesn't look as if it's going to be as large as he wanted. Netanyahu is the next prime minister - but he'll be forced to have more coalition partners than he hoped.

2. That we all know that Netanyahu is the next prime minister actually hurts him and his party. It gives voters the sense that their larger goal – getting the right PM – has already been achieved, and hence the excuse to vote for a more ideologically tailored party. This is a process that is reminiscent of the one we had in Israel in the nineties, when for a brief period Israel had a system of a two-ticket vote – one for PM and one for a party. The system was formed to bring more "stability", but actually had the opposite outcome: The voters cast a vote for PM, and then moved on to cast their second vote for smaller parties that were to their liking. The PM was personally elected, but the Knesset became unmanageable.

3. We don't yet know how the Lieberman indictment is going to impact on voters. The polls included in this graph were all taken too early for them to truly give voters time to process recent events and factor the Lieberman indictment into their decision. So – next week might reveal something that we don't yet know.




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