Politics: Chutes and ladders

Who's sliding, who's climbing? A primer for the perplexed on the plethora of political parties.

knesset88 (photo credit: )
(photo credit: )
Kadima Key additions: Former Shin-Bet chief Avi Dichter, Herzliya Interdisciplinary Center President Uriel Reichman, former Education Ministry director-general Ronit Tirosh Key subtractions: MK Omri Sharon - not running for re-election, Kiryat Shmona Mayor Haim Barbivai - suspended himself from party when police pressed charges Apparent top 10: Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Vice Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, Dichter, Transportation Minister Meir Sheetrit, Internal Security Minister Gideon Ezra, Tourism Minister Avraham Herschson, MK Haim Ramon, Reichman, Deputy Immigrant Absorption Minister Marina Solodkin. Candidates with Anglo connections: None Main issues: Drawing Israel's borders via the road map, electoral reform Outlook: Kadima's potential for success is unlimited as long as Sharon's appetite for food and its other leaders' appetite for power is limited. The party gained sympathy points in the polls after Sharon's stroke, but continued infighting between potential Sharon successors Ehud Olmert and Tzipi Livni could stop Kadima's advance. Current MKs: 19. Kadima ministers Shaul Mofaz and Tzahi Hanegbi are not MKs. Poll position: 35-42 Labor-Meimad Key additions: Ben-Gurion University of the Negev President Avishay Braverman, former Shin-Bet chief Ami Ayalon, broadcaster Shelly Yehimovic, former consul-general in New York Alon Pinkas, former Jerusalem police chief Aryeh Amit. Key subtractions: MKs Shimon Peres, Ramon and Dalia Itzik- joined Kadima; MKs Avraham Shochat and Ilana Cohen- retiring from politics; Amram Mitzna and Avraham Burg - quit Knesset Apparent top 10: Labor chairman Amir Peretz, Ayalon, MK Ophir Paz-Pines, MK Isaac Herzog, MK Yuli Tamir, MK Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, Labor Secretary-General Eitan Cabel, Yehimovic, MK Matan Vilna'i, Michael Melchior Candidates with Anglo connections: Australian Guy Spigelman seeking 27th slot reserved for a young candidate, Pinkas. Main issues: Raising the minimum wage, helping the poor Outlook: The party jumped dramatically in the polls when Peretz won its chairmanship and has steadily fallen ever since. If Peretz doesn't change its momentum soon, Labor will fall in the polls back into the teens and he will likely be ousted soon after the March 28 election. Current MKs: 18 Poll position: 19-24 Likud Key additions: None Key subtractions: Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and 13 other MKs, Mofaz, Hanegbi. Apparent top 10: Likud chairman Binyamin Netanyahu, Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom, coalition chairman Gideon Sa'ar, Health Minister Dan Naveh, Agriculture Minister Yisrael Katz, MK Uzi Landau, Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin, Education Minister Limor Livnat, MK Gilad Erdan, former minister Natan Sharansky Candidates with Anglo connections: American Mitchell Barak seeking 33rd slot reserved for an immigrant, British Drora Galloway seeking a slot reserved for a woman Main issues: Insisting on Palestinian reciprocity, fighting corruption Outlook: The party rose in the polls after Netanyahu's election on Monday. But since then, Netanyahu has angered Likudniks by delaying the Likud's departure from the cabinet, trying to oust Moshe Feiglin from the party and reserving the second slot on the party's Knesset slate for Shalom. Another Likud rebellion against another Likud leader would prevent the party from rising to a respectable 20 mandates. Current MKs: 26 Poll position: 11-16 Meretz Key additions: Former IDF chief censor Rachel Dolev, former general Shaul Arieli, ultra-Orthodox author Tzvia Greenfield, human rights lawyer Gabi Lasky Key subtractions: Retiring MK Yossi Sarid, MK Roman Bronfman - running with Democratic Choice party Apparent top 5: Meretz chairman Yossi Beilin, MKs Ran Cohen, Haim Oron, Zehava Gal-on and Avshalom Vilan Candidates with Anglo connections: Greenfield Main issue: Reaching peace with the Palestinians via the Geneva Initiative Outlook: There is tension in the party between Beilin's supporters and opponents. He wants to see newcomers in top positions on the list but veterans like Oron and Cohen intend to fight for their political survival. Current MKs: 5 Poll position: 4-7 National Religious Party Key additions: None Key subtractions: MKs Effi Eitam and Yitzhak Levy - joined National Union Party Apparent top 5: NRP chairman Zevulun Orlev, MKs Shaul Yahalom, Gila Finkelstein and Nisan Slomiansky, NRP secretary-general Sar-Shalom Jarby Candidates with Anglo connections: None, but Finkelstein was an English teacher Main issues: Religious Zionist education and religion Outlook: Now that it is becoming clearer that the NRP might not run together with the National Union, it has to start preparing to run alone. The National Union already has an entire campaign ready and its top 10 list drawn up, but the NRP is waiting for the January 12 election for its Knesset slate. Orlev wants to bring in a big name and he will have to do it soon or polls could show the party falling below the voter threshold. Current MKs: 4 Poll position: 3-6 National Union Key additions: Eitam and Levy, Hebron activist Orit Struck, Karnei Shomron Regional Council chairman Udi Lieberman Key subtractions: Former minister Avigdor Lieberman, MKs Yuri Stern and Eliezer Cohen - running with Israel Beiteinu, MK Michael Nudelman - running with Kadima Apparent top 10: MKs Benny Elon, Tzvi Hendel, Eitam, Levy, Uri Ariel and Aryeh Eldad, Lieberman, Struck, Moledet Executive chairman Uri Bank, Alex Epstein Candidates with Anglo connections: American native Bank Main issue: Holding on to all of Judea and Samaria Outlook: Elon talked about winning as many as 20 mandates but most polls show the party winning just five, which would leave out of the Knesset its rising star, Eldad. All of the top five candidates on the list are religious and all are Ashkenazi settlers except Levy. The party might want to consider moving up candidates who are less homogeneous like the secular Eldad, the female Struck, the Anglo Bank or the Russian immigrant Epstein. Current MKs: 6 Poll position: 5-9 Shas Key additions: None Key subtractions: MK Yair Peretz - indicted, not running for re-election Apparent top 5: Shas chairman Eli Yishai, MKs Shlomo Benizri, Nissim Dahan, Yitzhak Cohen, Amnon Cohen Candidates with Anglo connections: None Main issues: Helping the poor, supporting Sephardi ultra-Orthodox causes Outlook: The party lost the potential to attract new voters on social or ethnic issues when Labor elected Peretz and right-wing issues when Likud elected Netanyahu. Yishai wants to bring in a dynamic new name to refresh the list, but as long as his name is not Arye Deri, the party will fall in the polls. Current MKs: 11 Poll position: 7-12 Shinui Key additions: None Key subtractions: MK Reshef Cheyne - retiring from politics Apparent top 5: Shinui chairman Yosef Lapid, MKs Avraham Poraz, Eliezer Sandberg, Ilan Shalgi and Victor Brailovsky Candidates with Anglo connections: None. Main issues: Political corruption, separation of religion and state Outlook: It is becoming more and more likely that the party will not pass the voter threshold. Most of its voters have shifted to Kadima. But if Sharon's health falters, Shinui could be the only serious centrist party. Then again, Lapid is nearly as old and overweight as Sharon. Current MKs: 15 Poll position: 3-5 Smaller Parties: Jewish National Front, Herut, Tzomet, Tafnit, Green Leaf, Democratic Choice, Lehem Key additions: Former IDF deputy chief of general staff Uzi Dayan founded Tafnit, social activist Vikki Knafo founded Lehem. Candidates with Anglo connections: Boston-born Baruch Marzel and University of Chicago educated Paul Eidelberg will be on the Jewish National Front list, Canadian Dan Goldenblatt on Green Leaf Main issues: These parties represent everything from extreme-right wing politics, to social affairs to legalizing Marijuana Outlook: It is extremely unlikely that any of these parties will obtain the 80,000 votes necessary to enter the next Knesset. In the last election, 36,000 people wasted their votes on Herut, which did not enter the Knesset. Had those same voters instead voted for the National Union, it would have received another seat at the expense of the Arab nationalist Balad party. Current MKs: Just Bronfman of the Democratic Choice party. Former MK Michael Kleiner is leaning toward running again with Herut despite Marzel's departure from the party, which would make it even more unlikely for the Jewish National Front party to enter the Knesset. Poll position: Zero United Arab Parties: Hadash-Ta'al, Balad, United Arab List Key additions: Sheikh Ibrahim Sarsur Key subtractions: MK Abdel Malik Dehamshe might be replaced by Sarsur Apparent top 5: If the three parties run together, they might run in the following order: Hadash MK Mohammed Barakeh, Balad MK Azmi Bishara, Hadash MK Issam Mahoul, Sarsur or Dehamshe, Balad MK Jamal Zahalka Candidates with Anglo connections: None Main issues: Advancing equality, helping Israeli Arabs Outlook: The Arab parties disagree on many crucial issues relating to Islam, economics and their attitude to the state. But because the voter threshold was raised, they must get past their differences and run together as one party or there might not be any Arab MKs in the next Knesset. Hadash was the only party that received enough votes last time to pass the threshold in this election. Current MKs: 8 Poll position: 8-10 if they run together, three for Hadash and none for other parties if they don't. United Torah Judaism Key additions and subtractions: None Apparent top 5: MKs Ya'acov Litzman, Avraham Ravitz, Shmuel Halpert, and Moshe Gafni, former MK Yisrael Eichler. Candidates with Anglo connections: Litzman spent his childhood in Brooklyn Main issue: Ashkenazi ultra-Orthodox causes Outlook: As long as Ashkenazi ultra-Orthodox women continue to have many children, UTJ will continue to get more votes every election. Degel Hatorah and Agudat Yisrael have smartly decided to run together. Degel has denied rumors that Jerusalem mayor Uri Lupolianski could replace the ailing Ravitz. But there is apparently a deal that MK Meir Porush will run for Jerusalem mayor instead of Lupolianski next time. Current MKs: 5 Poll position: 5-6 Yisrael Beiteinu Key additions: Former deputy Shin-Bet chief Yisrael Hason Key subtractions: Nudelman Apparent top 5: Chairman Avigdor Lieberman, Hason, MKs Yuri Shtern and Eliezer Cohen, Esterina Tartman Candidates with Anglo connections: None Main issues: Trading the Palestinians land in the Galilee heavily populated by Arabs for expanded settlement blocs in Judea and Samaria Outlook: Lieberman has an original platform and he hasn't started marketing it yet in a serious way. If he handles the campaign smartly, he could steal many votes from his political mentor, Netanyahu. Lieberman's aides believe that many people who tell pollsters that they are voting for the National Union really intend to vote for Lieberman but don't know that he is running separately. Current MKs: 2 Poll position: 4-8