Speculation

An Israeli favorite past-time in election season is to speculate over the composition of the future coalition. Polls are routinely published and the different camps of parties are added up: the right get such and such, the left get such and such. A variation on this theme is to invent imaginary parties, made up of former and current politicians who may or may not leave their parties, as well as other celebrities. One such idea was a mega-party made up of the remnants of Kadima together with Yair Lapid’s new party who will be joined by former Kadima leaders Tzipi Livni and Ehud Olmert (if he ever gets out of court). There has been no such announcement, but the mega-party has been counted in polls anyway.

This week we have a new idea. Over the past few days, the media has been circulating rumors that Moshe Kahlon, the rising star in Likud who holds the posts of both Minister of communications and Minister of Welfare, who recently announced that he would be leaving politics for some time out, will be forming his own party. According to a poll cited by the media, Kahlon would receive 20 seats in the Knesset if he were to form a separate party. He would draw voters mainly from the larger parties: Likud, Yisrael-Beiteinu, Labor, Yesh Atid (Yair Lapid) and Shas. Kahlon is held in high esteem by the Right as well as the left, and has been praised for his part in breaking the triopoly in the cell-phone service industry, thus bringing down everyone’s phone bills by hundreds of shekels.

Of course, none of this has any basis yet, and Kahlon has yet to comment directly on the rumor. Kahlon was quoted at the time of his previous announcement as saying that he remains loyal and plans to stay in Likud, but according to journalistic speculation, he is fed-up with Netanyahu’s right-wing financial policies and has decided to go his separate way.

Moshe Kahlon. Photo: Knesset Website.

Another theory which I thought of is that the whole story has been coordinated and planned by Netanyahu himself. Netanyahu is a superb strategist and is quite capable of concocting a scenario in which Kahlon forms a separate party, seemingly in defiance of his own party, Likud, thus slightly weakening the newly forged alliance between Likud and Yisrael-Beiteinu, but also weakening Labor and Yesh Atid which are predicted to be Netanyahu’s main adversaries after the elections. The joint forces of Likud, Yisrael Beiteinu and Kahalon will hold almost half of the Knesset seats.

Theoretical map of the largest parties in the Knesset (according to polls) without Kahlon

Likud + Yisrael Beiteinu Labor Yesh Atid Shas HaBayit HaYehudi + HaIchud HaLeumi Yahadut Hatora
~42 seats ~23 seats ~17 seats ~11 seats ~7 seats ~6 seats

In this scenario, Netanyahu would have to form a coalition with Shas, Habayit Hayehudi and Yahadut Hatora, which would be just enough to reach 61 seats (maybe).

Theoretical map of the largest parties in the Knesset (the numbers are completely theoretical because the relevant poll was never fully published) with Kahlon

Likud + Yisrael Beiteinu Labor Yesh Atid Shas HaBayit HaYehudi + HaIchud HaLeumi Yahadut Hatora Kahlon
36 seats 19 seats 10 seats 8 seats 7 seats 6 seats 20 seats

In this scenario, Netanyahu could form a much wider coalition, perhaps even without the Ultra-Orthodox parties (Shas and Yahadut Hatora) which would enable him to make the necessary changes to the draft law (see my post on the subject).

Of course, all of this is my own speculation about the media’s speculations, so take it with a grain of salt. But I have talked to someone else who is involved in politics who also thought of this scenario.

Update- since writing these lines, a number of newspapers have also floated this theory, which does not make it any truer.

Update 2- A new poll has just been published. It was done by Mina Tzemach for Yediot Ahronot:

If Kahlon does not form a new party (current seats in parenthesis):

Likud- Beiteinu – 35 (42)

Labor -24 (8)

Shas -13 (11)

Yesh Atid- 15 (-)

Arab parties- 11 (11)

Yahadut HaTora- 6 (5)

HaBayit HaYehudi + HaIchud HaLeumi – 5 (7)

Meretz- 4 (3)

Atzmaut- 2 (5)

The remaining half of HaIchud Haleumi- 2 (2)

Green party- 1-2 (-)

Pensioners’ party- 1-2 (-)

Kadima- 0 (27)

If Kahlon does form a new party:

Likud- Beiteinu – 30 (42)

Labor -22 (8)

Kahlon- 13 (-)

Shas -13 (11)

Yesh Atid- 12 (-)

Arab parties- 11 (11)

Yahadut HaTora- 6 (5)

HaBayit HaYehudi + HaIchud HaLeumi – 5 (7)

Meretz- 4 (3)

Atzmaut- 2 (5)

The remaining half of HaIchud Haleumi- 2 (2)

Green party- 0 (-)

Pensioners’ party- 0 (-)

Kadima- 0 (27)

  • So far, polls have differed from each other by as many as +/- 5 seats for every party, which can be extremely important for parties such as Kadima, but also for the larger parties, as the outcome will affect who becomes Prime Minister and how s/he can form a coalition.

 

Update 3- Moshe Kahlon has announced tonight (November 3rd) that he will not be forming his own party. Scratch all of the above…

Read my previous election updates:

Updates: Likud- Yisrael Beiteinu Mega Party * More Politicians Flock to Where the Seats Are * The Race Heats Up in Habayit Hayehudi * Qassam Rockets hit the South

What’s new on the Israeli election front?

You may also be interested in a basic description of the different parties in the Knesset:

Israeli Parties and Politics- Part 1

Israeli Parties and Politics- Part 2

 

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2 comments

  1. […] I have already updated in a previous post, Moshe Kahlon of Likud will not be forming a new […]

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