December 6, 2012 | 7:58 am
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:
A more radical rightist party isn’t yet certain to have enough votes to get in.
The Ashkenazi United Torah Judaism (Yahadut HaTorah) will pull in around 5 or 6 mandates, as usual.
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.
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.
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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