Bold predictions about upcoming election

In less than a week, the elections will be held for the Knesset and the tension is nearing a peak.

By ORI WERTMAN
September 11, 2019 19:32
Bold predictions about upcoming election

The ballot slips in an election booth that represent the various parties only contain Hebrew letters, with no translation into Arabic, English or any other language. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

While in the battle between the two major parties, Blue and White will end above Likud, the surprise of the election will be Labor, which will fail to pass the threshold.

In less than a week, the elections will be held for the Knesset and the tension is nearing a peak. The greatest question is whether Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will succeed in obtaining a majority for forming a right-wing government without Avigdor
Liberman, an outcome that according to the polls seems almost unrealistic.

Past data indicate that every party and political bloc has a minimum and maximum threshold of votes it can receive. While in the last two election campaigns the right-wing bloc gained approximately 56% of the vote, the center-left bloc (together with the Arab parties) won roughly 44%. Hence, in order to prudently predict what the results of the elections will be, it is important to consider that there is a limit to the amount of votes that large parties can “drink” from small ones. The analysis below is based on the election results in percentages in 2009, 2013, 2015 and April 2019.

Let’s start with the sectoral parties. As a united bloc, the Arab parties won the last four elections with 8%-10.5% of the votes. In the 2015 elections, when the Arabs ran under the Joint Arab List, the percentage of voters among the Arab public was close to two-thirds, and the united party won a record of 10.5% (13 seats). In the April 2019 elections, however, the Joint Arab List split into two parties, Hadash-Ta’al and Ra’am-Balad, a split that probably affected the voter turnout among the Arab public that dropped then to 50%, and the two parties together eventually won only 8%. Thus, given that in the upcoming elections, like in the 2015 elections, the Arab parties are running on a unified list, the Joint Arab List is likely to be strengthened and win at least 9% of the votes.

Compared to the Arab parties, the ultra-Orthodox parties (Shas and UTJ) won the last four elections with 12%-14% of the votes. On the one hand, probably due to high birth rates in the ultra-Orthodox population, UTJ regularly climbs every election campaign, from 4.5% in the 2009 elections to a peak of 6% in the April 2019 elections. Shas, on the other hand, gained 8.5%-9.5% prior to the split between Arye Deri and Eli Yishai. Yet, following the split that occurred before the 2015 elections, Shas’s power dropped to 5.5%-6%. Therefore, while UTJ is likely to retain its power (6%) in the upcoming elections, it seems that Shas will strengthen slightly at the Likud’s expense and win at least 7%, due to the fear of the Sephardi-haredi Likud’s voters that a unity government may be formed without the ultra-Orthodox parties.

Compared to the sectoral parties, the situation is more complex within the right-wing bloc. Past data indicate that the political power of the religious Zionism (without the extreme Right) ranged from 6% (as it was in the 2019 elections when New Right and National Union ran separately) to 9% (as it was in the 2013 elections when there was one united list under the Jewish Home’s platform).

DESPITE THE expectation that in light of the imminent battle between the two major parties the Likud is expected to “drink” votes from Yamina, it seems that the latter, which in the April elections has already reached the lower threshold of its political power, will not drop beyond 6%. On the contrary, there is a possibility that Yamina will slightly recover and gain 7%. Yisrael Beytenu, on the other hand, which won 5% in 2015 elections and 4% in the April 2019 elections, is expected to significantly strengthen and win around 8% of the votes, mostly at the Likud’s expense.

Thus, given Liberman’s new political positioning, who from being the chief critic of the Arab parties’ disloyalty has become a “struggling knight” against the extortion of the ultra-Orthodox parties, it seems that secular Likud voters, who want to see a government without the ultra-Orthodox parties to be formed after the elections, will prefer instead to vote for Liberman’s party.
As a result, due to the expecting strengthening of Shas, Yamina and Yisrael Beytenu at the Likud’s expense, it seems that Likud, which won 26.5% in the 2019 elections, will lose some of its power in the upcoming elections. Therefore, although the majority of Kulanu voters in the last election (3.5%) are expected to return with Moshe Kahlon back to the Likud, the latter will probably win 25.5% of the votes in the coming elections.

Within the center-left bloc the situation is no less complicated. While the Labor, which is used to double-digit scores (10% in 2009 elections and 11.5% in 2009 elections), won only 4.5% in the April election, Meretz (now the Democratic Union) won the last four elections with 3%-4.5% of the votes. Assuming that Blue and White (26% in the April elections) will once again “drink” votes from the center-left parties, it is reasonable that Benny Gantz’s party will slightly strengthen in the coming election and win 26.5%. In this situation, while a new political spirit blows within the Democratic Union and hence is expected to rise and win 4.5%, it seems that the tired Labor will be weakened even further and win only 3%. That result will leave Labor outside the Knesset.

In conclusion, according to the predictions above, the picture of the mandates in the next Knesset will be as follows: Blue and White 35, Likud 33, Joint Arab List 11, Yisrael Beytenu 10, Yamina 9, Shas 9, UTJ 8, Democratic Union 5. In this situation, the right-wing bloc without Liberman will have only 59 seats, a figure that will not allow Netanyahu to form a right-wing government without Yisrael Beytenu. Hence, the possible option remaining on the table is the establishment of a unity government.

The writer is a research assistant and PhD candidate at the University of South Wales, and was a foreign affairs and political adviser to former Labor Party chairman Isaac Herzog, former deputy chairman of the Labor Party Youth, and a candidate on the Labor Knesset list.


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