Seven weeks before Israel’s Election Day and it is time we knew who’s running against who. And today is the day: Parties are required to finalize the process of drawing up their lists and locking them down. No more behind-door-negotiations with reluctant political-stars-to-be, no more daily rumors of who’s in and who’s out, who’s coming and who's going, of switching parties or awaiting propositions. The map is a mess, but it is a finalized mess. And the latest earth-shattering surprise was an announced on Thursday morning: Amir Peretz, the former Labor party leader and defense minister, whose popularity has experienced a recent boost over his sponsorship of Iron Dome, announced that he has left Labor and joined Livni.
On the right and/or religious:
- The Likud Beiteinu merged party. It will be, in all likelihood, the largest party, and the ruling party. Our updated Israel Poll Trend tracker – complete with graphs and analysis based on Prof. Camil Fuchs’ calculations – gives the right-religious bloc an advantage that will be hard to erase. Take a look at it. This is the best way to clearly understand where Israel is headed politically.
- The Jewish Home (Habayit Hayehudi). A rightwing-religious (but with a grain of secular for the first time) party that is going to be far more significant that its fractured predecessors (latest polls say it’s likely to get 10 mandates or even as many as 11 or 12).
A more radical rightist party isn’t yet certain to have enough votes to get in.
- Shas, the religious Sephardic party will get its usual share of mandates, 10 or more.
The Ashkenazi United Torah Judaism (Yahadut HaTorah) will pull in around 5 or 6 mandates, as usual.
- Am Shalem, a new party headed by Haim Amsalem (a defiant rabbi rebel cast out from Shas), which is becoming popular among the I-have-no-one-to-vote-for crowd – has been getting around 3 mandates in recent polls. It could be the election surprise (some more about the prospects of this party here).
- Labor is the big one, with 20 mandates or so in most polls.
The Movement (Hatnua), Tzipi Livni’s new party is getting around 8-9 mandates in recent polls. Not enough to get her close to her stated goal of replacing Netanyahu as the next prime minister.
- Yesh Atid is losing mandates to Livni and seems to be in decline. It gets 7-9 mandates in recent polls.
The leftist Meretz is at 4-5 mandates. MK Nitzan Howowitz of Meretz is our first guest in our series of interviews with Israeli politicians that will be running until Election Day – read the interview here.
- Raam Taal. This Arab party seems to be getting stronger with 5 mandates according to recent polls, while the two other Arab parties, Hadash and Balad are getting 3 apiece.
But as you know, what really counts in Israel, today more than ever, is not the party, but the bloc. Parties (in Israel) come and go every cycle. Blocs are forever, as no prime minister can survive in the Knesset without the right number of hands raised in approval of his policies. Netanyahu seems to have a very comfortable lead at the moment. Unless things change dramatically in the coming weeks, his rivals in the center-left will be left with a thorny decision: Do they remain in the opposition for who knows how long, or do they join the coalition, sacrificing their ideological claims on the altar of making an impact?
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