Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Knesset Elections Results

HOW THEY VOTED: (according to a Haaretz Newspaper poll)
Party Knesset Seats Percent of Voters

Kadima 28 23

Likud 27 21

Beitenu 15 12

Labor 13 10

Shas 11 9

Judaism 5 4

Union 4 3

Home 3 3

Meretz 3 3


Hadash 4 3

United Arab
List Ta'al 4 4

Balad 3 3

12 parties elected to the Knesset


Gil (Senior Citizens Party), Meimad (Rav Melchior)

The remainder were new parties running for the first time that didn't make the required minimum, and joined Gil and Meimad out of the Knesset.

Following the election results Likud and Kadima were both wooing Avigdor Leiberman's Yisrael Beitenu party. Most analysts think that the Likud will wind up forming a coalition of right-wing parties, making up about 65 seats in the Knesset, with Benjamin 'Bibi' Netanyahu as the Prime Minister. Avigdor Leiberman is said to be requesting the Minister of Defense portfolio. Pundits say that should this happen Israel will again be left with a novice,in charge of the army. The reference was to then Labor party leader Amir Peretz, who was Minister of Defense during the War in Lebanon II.

Most analysts don't expect the government, no matter who forms it, to last more than two years.

Voter turn-out was at about 65 per cent which was on the low end of high. When Ehud Barak was elected Prime Minister in 1999 the voter turn-out was 79 percent.

Tzipi Livni surprised most of the analysts by getting more votes than Netanyahu. Labor has said it will stay in the opposition rather than join a coalition government. The defeat for Labor was painful. Ehud Barak, the party leader, expected to get more votes than Leiberman, but didn't. Some say it was because the rockets kept falling on Israel even after the war, causing people to wonder exactly what was gained by operation Cast Lead.

Other analysts said Hamas fired the missiles in order to defeat a left-of-center election win. Hamas, the analysts said, prefer to have a right-wing party like Likud, and Yisrael Beitenu, because it is easier for them to stir up support in Gaza if Israel is attacking than if Israel is trying to make peace.

One pundit brought up the example of the Russian Revolution, where the anarchists purposefully set off bombs in order to bring down the wrath of the government and the army. This government repression created a polarization among the population which helped solidify the lefts position, ultimately creating the atmosphere for a successful revolution.

Whatever their motivation, Hamas succeeded in helping defeat Ehud Barak in the polls, and apparently bringing a right-wing coalition into power.

Some analysts call for a national unity government. Should the Likud, Kadima, and Labor band together, they would form a majority that would allow that coalition to rule, excluding Leiberman from the government.

However, it is considered unlikely that Netanyahu would agree to share power with Tzipi Livni or Ehud Barak. Netanyahu was reported to have turned down Livni's offer of a rotation agreement.

The only positive thing that happened on election day, and for mystics a good omen, was that it finally rained in Israel. A thunderstorm began during the night prior to the elections and continued well into the evening. "Geshem zeh bracha" (Rain is a blessing,) said the mystics. It is still an open question if the results of this election were a blessing or something far worse.