Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Well, something happened in yesterday's election but a lot less than the pundits seem to think. Let's break up the previous Knesset according to a somewhat more informative grouping than the usual party breakdown. The first number is the number of seats held in the outgoing Knesset and the number in parentheses is the (estimated) number in the incoming Knesset:

Center-Left (=Sharon + Shinui) -- 31 (28)
Secular right (=Likud [non-Sharon] + Lieberman) -- 28 (23)
Left (=Labor + Am Echad + Meretz) -- 28 (24)
Haredim (=Shas + Agudah) -- 16 (19)
Religious right (=Mafdal + Ichud Leumi) -- 10 (9)
Arabs (=Balad + Raam + Chadash) -- 7 (10)
Pensioners -- 0 (7)

(A detail: For Sharon, I counted the 14 Likud MKs who ultimately defected to Kadima, as well as Inbal Gavrieli -- who voted with Sharon but was the only human being ever rejected by Kadima -- and Michael Nudelman, who defected from Lieberman to Sharon early on.)

When you look at it this way, you see quite how little has changed. Haredim and Arabs benefitted from high birthrates (18 years ago) and immunity to the apathy and cynicism that affected the mainstream. The Pensioners benefitted from that cynicism. Everybody else lost between 10 and 20 percent of their base.

Yes, the nominal realignment is meaningful, as are the redistributions within each group. But most significant is the fact that the Sharon-Shinui group consisted of two groups each with strong leadership (if you didn't look too closely under the hood), while Kadima might prove to be a rudderless mess.

7 Comments:

Blogger Ben Bayit said...

I agree with your analysis. The 2003 election and the 70/50 favoring of the "right" was an anomaly. The religious right became confused and the Yesha folks thought they had their man, Sharon, in charge.

This election is a return to the divided 50/50 knesset that existed between 1981 and 2001. The penshioners have just taken the place in the "middle" that used to be occupied by Dash, Tzomet, Derech Hashlishi, etc. In general these years were very fertile and good to Yesha and the Religious Zionists - in opposition or not. Nothing major will happen untill Kadima collapses - as it will eventually. And if something does happen, the opposition will be stronger - like it was in 1993 through 1996.

And once again the "fighting" opposition will have to come largely from "extra-parliamentary" and extra-moetzet Yesha groups. Come to think of it the head of the major opposition group at that time is still trying to become head of a party, but is no longer trying to become head of the major party that represents the "am" - 5th place isn't much of the "am", so it looks like the Karpel wing of MY won that dispute. Maybe MF will go back to doing what he was always good at doing before starting a political faction that went nowwhere. So much for MY.

7:53 PM  
Blogger Charlie Hall said...

Also agree. The election is mainly notable for being a major personal defeat for Netanyahu and a general defeat for right wing economic policies. (What was left of Shinui didn't even make it into the Knesset.)

What IS the platform of the Pensioners party, anyway?

11:33 PM  
Blogger Michael Kopinsky said...

I assume that the platform for the pensioner's party is the same as that of the chareidim - get money for our constituents. They will join any government that offers them enough money.

2:19 AM  
Blogger bar_kochba132 said...

Did anyone notice how, in spite of the fact that the Likud dropped from 38 seats to 11, and despite the fact that many of its traditional voters are religious, the Ihud Leumi/MAFDAL did NOT pick up even one seat from them, just holding on to what they had? I heard Benny Elon complaining in an interview about Baruch Marzel's party getting something like 25,000 votes, saying they were "wasted" because if they had gone to IL/MAFDAL, they would have picked up another seat. He should not be so sure of that...I voted for Marzel, fully aware that he might not pass the threshold, but I would NOT have voted for Elon's party instead. My vote was a protest at Elon's party complacency, ineffectiveness, lack of accountablility, etc. It doesn't seem he and his fellow party members have learned anything from their electoral rebuff.

8:19 AM  
Blogger westbankmama said...

If the Charedi parties benefited from their higher birthrate, then where is our higher birthrate? Where are all of the secular right wingers? Did they vote for Kadima? Did they vote for the pensioners?

12:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So, where did all of the RZ vote go?

I wouldn't be so fast in saying that the Arabs aren't subject to apathy and cynicism - the voter percentage among the non-Jewish sector was a mere 56%. The Arabs seem to be the sector most apathetic to Knesset elections - presumably since they (rightfully) assume that no matter the outcome it will have no effect on their lives.

12:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Keep in mind that the Sharon part of the Likud, which you are counting as center, ran as right wing (i dont think anyone who voted likud last time thought they were voting for a unilateral withdrawal from 90% of the west bank and the arab areas of jerusalem (and i dont think most of the MKs who went with Kadima would have agreed to that position at the time). Voters for Kadima clearly were voting for someone who advocated precisely that.

1:13 AM  

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