It’s a bit complex, but I’ll take a shot at explaining Israel’s elections.
Unlike America, Israel has a parliamentary system, an unfortunate inheritance from previous British rule.Among other things, that means multiple political parties rather than just two.
Israel, being a small country likewise lacks states and therefore, an electoral college. Instead, seats in the Knesset, Israel’s parliament are doled out based on the percentage of votes each party gets. Parties who get less than 3.5percent get zero seats, known in Israel as ‘mandates.’
To win and control the Knesset, a party needs 61 mandates out of 120. Since this rarely if ever happens, once the results are in the horsetrading starts, with the leading parties swapping cabinet positions (AKA portfolios) with other parties to get to 61.
Last time, no one party was able to get to 61 and form a government. Ditto this time, at least so far.
The two leading parties are Likud and a new left wing party called Blue and White. While most of the population voted for Right Wing and religious parties, they still lack 3 mandates. Blue and White lack a few more than that, but the only way they get even to that number is by bringing the anti-Israel Joint Arab List parties into government and of course, acceding to their demands. Blue And White leaders Benny Gantz and Yair (Tommy) Lipid already said they would bring the Arab parties into their coalition and comply with various demands. The Arab list concurred but changed their minds based on Gantz’s military record, ambivalent as it is.
The man who is really holding the cards is Avigdor Liberman, leader of Yisrael Beiteinu. This party is primarily a party of Russian immigrants to Israel and a Nationalist party on the right. They ordinarily would be in Likud’s governing coalition and with 7 mandates would give Netanyahu and Likud an easy majority. What’s stopping them is Liberman’s intense dislike of Netanyahu ever since Bibi fired him as Defense Minister. He also has resentment towards the religious right wing parties in Netanyahu’s coalition, and they return the favor. On to other hand, if he were to try and take his party into Ganz’s coalition,his party would likely revolt because of blue and White’s willingness to bring the anti-Israel Arab Parties into government. So he’s sitting tight and enjoying every minute of the chaos he’s creating.
This will likely end in one of these ways:
- An uneasy ‘unity government ‘ that would likely crash soon. After all, some 26% voted for the Blue and White party, but the Israeli electorate in general, and particularly the 75% who are Jews, voted for continuing the country’s present abandonment of socialism and for right-wing parties.
- Netanyahu going behind the scenes and getting those three mandates he needs from Liberman’s party by offering them ministries and positions.
- Another election, something I doubt would happen but it is possible.
So that in a nutshell is my shot at explaining Israel’s Elections.
Rob Miller writes for Joshuapundit. His articles have appeared in The Jerusalem Post, The Washington Examiner, American Thinker, The Los Angeles Times, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The San Francisco Chronicle, Real Clear Politics, The Times Of Israel, Breitbart.Com, Yediot and other publications.