Wednesday, December 10, 2008

One post-mortem post on the Likud primaries and then we can hopefully move on to topics of broader interest.

The interesting story isn't who did or didn't get in to the top 40. There weren't really that many surprises there (I'll mention the exceptions below). The interesting story is how innocent looking features of the decision mechanism can have significant impact on results.

In this case, the innocent looking feature was the guarantee of the 10 and 20 spots to women. Here's how that played out. Voters had 12 slots to fill on the national list. They correctly realized that by choosing two women (which they were not formally required to do) they'd be getting more bang for their buck, since it would be sufficient to have your favorite women pass the other women, even way down on the list, and they'd shoot up to 10 and 20. (To get the idea, imagine that they said that the top vote-getter with purple hair gets the top slot on the list regardless of how few votes s/he got. You'd probably include a purple hair person on your list.)

Well, since there were only around six women running with any traction at all, they all got disproportionately large numbers of votes. In fact, no fewer than four women came in higher than 20th (Ness, Livnat, Hotobeli and Gamliel). But, this anomaly actually triggered a cascade effect. According to the rules, if a slot reserved for women opens up (because a woman came in higher than that slot on her own, so the guarantee wasn't needed), the slot is filled by the next highest vote-getter on the national list. (This is as opposed to the rule used in previous primaries in which everybody -- including those in slots reserved for regional candidates -- moved up.) As a result, the vacated women's slots at 20, 24 and 29 were filled by Feiglin, Ratzon and Yatom, all of whom are regarded as hard-core right-wingers. Had this rule not been in effect all three would be much further down the list. (As a result Bibi has sent his lapdog, Ofir Akounis, to the Likud court to try to roll back the rule. The man never misses an opportunity to make an ass of himself.)

As for the list itself, Miri Regev, Assaf Hefetz and Uzi Dayan, all left-wingers jumping on to a rising ship, were dumped way down the list. But Dan Meridor and Yossi Peled made the top 20, which is very unfortunate. It is also unfortunate that Miki Eitan is as low as 16 since his leverage for the Justice Ministry is now close to zero and the alternatives are considerably worse. But, other than that, there is nothing unexpected about the list other than the aforementioned success of the women (especially Hotobeli) and, if you didn't see it coming, Feiglin getting in at 20 (and maybe the poor performance of Yechiel Leiter).

As for Feiglin's impact on the list, you need to understand how MY's recommendation list was constructed. As I've explained, MY exists to advance Feiglin. The other people on the list were chosen according to three criteria that all serve that purpose. Some people were chosen because they were going to get in ahead of Feiglin anyway. The fact that all these ended up at the top of the list is not a result of MY's support for them but rather the reason for MY's support for them. Some were chosen because they were hopeless and therefore no threat to pass Feiglin (I suspect Hotobeli was an example of this that backfired). Finally, some were chosen because they made deals with Feiglin. The most egregious of these was Gila Gamliel and ironically the result of this deal was that Gila Gamliel passed Feiglin and almost bumped him deep down the list (and still might if Bibi's nefarious plot succeeds).

Other consequences of MY's recommendations are that Miki Eitan (not recommended by MY) is down at 16, Yariv Levine beat Gabi Avital in the Shfela region (both are good), Boaz Haetzni beat Yossi Fuchs in Yesha (both are good but Yossi probably would make the better MK) and Sagiv Asulin is in the 35 spot. Neither of MY's olim recommendations got in. All in all, then, MY had some impact on the results but it could hardly be said that the impact was especially positive.

But Feiglin is in at 20 (which I think is a good thing) and, take my word for it, Michael Fuah doesn't give a damn about all the rest of them.

Update: Here is the Likud's takanon bechirot. As far as what to do when the women's positions open up, the plain reading of clauses 12 and 27 would indicate that Feiglin has a strong case (clause 12) but Michi Ratzon and Ehud Yatom have a problem (clause 27).


Anonymous Anonymous said...

manhigut yehudit has edited its own goals to become more centrist they have finally broken in! from being principled to becoming a public leadership centrist

4:17 AM  
Blogger yechiel said...

I don't know if what you say about the women's spots (and by extension, the three right-wingers breaking through to the top 20) is necessarily true. Do average voters (or even the more hard-core political junkies) really pay attention to the spots allocation, and does it really influence their vote? I consider myself pretty hard-core, and I wasn't even aware of the existence of set-aside spots for women. I don't even think they are necessary any longer.

All the women you mentioned (with the possible exception of Hotobeli) were already known quantities in the Likud, certainly no less than some of the other relative newcomers (Yariv Levin, anyone?), and could certainly conceivably ended up in similar slots regardless of the existence of set-asides.

1:02 PM  
Blogger Ben Bayit said...

I'm not surprised Feiglin took down material from his website.
When Bibi pushes through the first ideoligical vote solely for the purposes of getting Feiglin to violate party unity and thus allow the party institutions to throw him out of the party (ironic that they can do that to an MK, but not to a candidate or member) - who knows - Feiglin may actually sell out on his base of support and become a regular, good 'ole MK after all......and vote with the Likud

1:09 PM  
Anonymous zalman said...

Geez, is it really big news that Feiglin won a spot in a right wing party, below Meridor and Peled?

how far down was Feiglin in the natural order? (where do i find the official results?)

Netanyahu's handling of the Feiglin affair is going to make it difficult for me to vote for Likud.

3:24 PM  
Blogger Ben Bayit said...

I agree with your reading of the articles. 18(b) certainly makes it clear that spot 20 which is held for a national list candidate only goes to a woman if there aren't any more women in the top 20. There were 4 in the top 20.

There is simply no way to read into this set of rules that the 3 through 5th reserved space for women are granted to national list candidates in the event that there are already sufficient women elected in the higher spots. The simple fact that the Likud placed Ratzon and Yatom in these spots against the simple and logical reading of the rules only strengthens Feiglin's case.

5:38 PM  
Blogger Ben said...

The irony is that in trying to dislodge Feiglin, Bibi will end up with Feiglin staying put and MY's guys, Asulin and Haetzni advancing to 33 and 34, which could be the difference between getting in or not.

5:44 PM  
Blogger D.C. said...

I don't see what Bibi has to gain by bumping Feiglin down from 20 to somewhere in the 30s.

Let's say I'm a voter who would generally be inclined to vote for Likud, but is afraid of Feiglin. If Feiglin is at #20, Bibi can say to me, "listen, Feiglin is going to get in anyway, no matter what, but we need you to vote Likud so that #30 - #40 on our list can get in." But if Feiglin is at 30-something, then I have to worry that my vote (to the extent that any one vote makes a difference) will make the difference between Feiglin getting in or being kept out, so I'll hesitate to vote Likud.

12:04 AM  

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