Tuesday, February 05, 2019

Political parties and public alike on the right must do everything they can to avoid a repeat of the 1992 election

With the Israeli election underway, it's strongly advised for anyone who cares about the country to make sure they're not making the mistake of throwing away votes over parties whose electoral chances are very uncertain. Especially since the threshold wasn't lowered, so far as I know. As Ariel Kahana notes, this is what it was like in 1992:
That year, no fewer than six parties were vying for right-wing votes, both religious and secular: Rafael Eitan's Tzomet; Tehiya, led by Yuval Neeman; Moledet under Rehavam Ze'evi; the National Religious Party; and the parties of Rabbis Eliezer Mizrahi (Geulat Yisrael) and Levinger (Torah Ve'eretz Yisrael), who planned to take votes from the NRP.

At the time, some warned that votes would be wasted and Knesset seats lost, but the party leaders didn't heed their warnings. Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir wasn't good enough for them and they started splitting ideological hairs. Certain that the Right would win, the parties stayed in the election until the end, which led to disastrous results. Tehiya, Mizrahi, and Levinger failed to reach the minimum electoral threshold, which cost the Right precious seats and led to the establishment of a left-wing government and – two years later – the return of PLO founder Yasser Arafat.

It's been 27 years, and it looks as if the national camp, particularly the wing that is more to the Right than the Likud, is on the same path. In 2019, we're also seeing six parties jockeying for position in the small sector to the Right of the mother party: Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked's New Right; Habayit Hayehudi under Rafi Peretz; the National Union under MK Bezalel Smotrich; Zehut and Otzma Yehudit, led by far-right activists Moshe Feiglin and Baruch Marzel, respectively; and former Shas leader Eli Yishai's Yachad party. Every one of these party leaders is convinced that he can draw enough support to make it into the even though the minimum electoral threshold (3.25%) is higher now than it used to be, and it takes about 150,000 votes to reach it.

This situation will undoubtedly lead to a loss of votes on the Right. Even if some of these parties were to merge, it wouldn't be enough, because too many players are crowded onto too small a field. In the 2015 election, Yishai and Marzel ran together but didn't make it over the minimum threshold, which led to the Right losing at least four seats. This time, with more parties competing in the exact same sector, it will be even more complicated to arrange a joint ticket.
Well that's why I'm honestly angry that Moshe Feiglin, who said some very distasteful things in the past, is now crowding the field with his own new party, probably so he can deliberately harm the right. Considering he never actually attacked the left-wing parties in past campaigns, that's one more reason why he's not qualified and doesn't deserve to be in the Knesset.

What's really disturbing now is if polls mean anything, and Benny Gantz, the new darling of the left, could take over from where Labor leaves off, and what if he does manage to unite some leftist parties into one? It could be bad.

Former Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat said:
Barkat responded to the poll results: "Now, as the Left is uniting and posing a threat, we must put together a strong team that will strengthen Likud and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and thwart attempts by Benny Gantz and the Left to topple the right-wing government."
And it's entirely possible the left will try to unite, so the right had better make sure they don't make mistakes by running separately, and do some mergers to help the cause of Israel. This is serious business, and it would do everyone a lot of good if they'd prove their capability of remaining united for the election.

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