Thursday, January 15, 2015

Watching the Israeli Elections 4: Eight Weeks Out it Looks Like Israel is Heading for More of the Same

Today Noam Sheizaf at +972 Magazine is looking at the scenario for a possible unity government. A unity government in Israel's parliamentary system comes about when no one party has sufficient coalition strength to form a government, and rival parties must combine in order to form a government. Sheizaf sees potential for a Labor-Likud led government for the 20th Knesset.

Here is the latest polling by Project 61, a non-partisan polling group:

Likud and Labor are currently expected to win 23-25 seats each, not enough to form a government by themselves, even if they team up.  Sheizaf believes both of these rivals will have a difficult time forming a government without the other.

What would it mean?  Sheizaf:
There are those who think that national unity is a good idea. That together the big parties can solve the existential challenges that face Israel: peace, security, inequality. But in reality, the opposite outcome is much more likely. National unity governments cannot bring about substantial reforms on any issue, since their common denominator – the glue that holds them together – is an agreement on the status quo
The most unlikely reform such a government will undertake has to do with the occupation, because Likud will simply not provide the necessary Knesset majority for any kind of agreement. Nearly every member of the party has vowed to oppose any kind of compromise, let alone the formation of a Palestinian state. While such a government may appear more moderate, and thus has a better chance of delaying some of the international measures being taken against the occupation (which are incredibly slow to take off in any case), the reality on the ground will stay the same – at best.
Two months out, it looks likely that no matter what combination of parties forms the next government, the likely outcome will be a continuation of the status quo.

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