Nafatali Bennett votes in Bayit Yehudi primary.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
I’m not a big fan of small, sectoral parties and their extortionate demands. So despite being one of Bayit Yehudi’s natural constituents, a religious Zionist settler, I never considered voting for that party rather than Likud. Nevertheless, I cheered when Bayit Yehudi chairman Naftali Bennett put the thumbscrews on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last Tuesday – which is another way of saying that not only has Netanyahu squandered a golden opportunity to advance the cause of “big-tent” parties, he has actually set the cause back by years.
To understand why, start by comparing the election results to pre-election polls. For all the flak pollsters took afterward, their predictions were actually accurate to within a single seat for all but two parties: Netanyahu’s Likud and Bayit Yehudi. The former won 30 seats, seven more than even the best polls predicted. The latter won eight seats, roughly four less than pollsters predicted. In other words, about four seats worth of religious Zionist voters migrated from Bayit Yehudi to Likud on Election Day, thereby contributing significantly to Likud’s decisive margin over Zionist Union and its consequent appointment to form the next government.