Kadima, Avoda, Shas and the Likud will compete for control of the Knesset this upcoming February 10
Livni has refused to play by the traditional rules of Israeli politics, and she has said that she will not sell her ideals to the (religious) Shas party in order to cling to the coveted post of prime minister, as so many other politicians that have preceded her have done. Livni has said no.
(From Jerusalem) FIVE WEEKS AFTER BEING ELECTED, the new leader of the Kadima and the minister of Foreign Affairs, Tzipi Livni, attempted to satisfy all the different parties so that a government could be formed. Alas, her efforts were in vain; she failed.
“Livni’s no will lead the citizens to the polls to choose from among different leaders; meanwhile, the country will be ruled by a government without a majority” The reason? Livni refuses to play by the traditional rules of Israeli politics, and she has said that she will not sell her ideals to the (religious) Shas party in order to cling to the coveted position of prime minister, as so many of the politicians that have preceded her have done. Livni has said no.
No to the shameful and deplorable political blackmail frequently used by the religious Sephardi party Shas, a party capable of selling the gates of heaven for a little bit of money in return, always taking care to disguise its economic extortion under false political pretenses – without an ethical base – that constantly put Israeli democracy, the Jewish characteristics of the State of Israel and the possibility of a future peaceful coexistence in this troubled region, in danger.
A GOVERNMENT WITHOUT A MAJORITY AND A BLOW TO THE PEACE PROCESS
Livni’s no will lead the citizens to the polls to choose from among different leaders, but until that happens the country will be ruled by a government without a majority. “In order to be able to achieve a coalition, in this hypothetical case, Livni must partner up with the Shas and other right-wing religious groups, or even with the Likud itself” The winter session of the Knesset, the Israeli Parliament, began on October 27, this time with the peculiarity that the coalition has no majority.
This situation is particularly dangerous in a partisan sectoral system like the Israeli one, in which each group can try to take advantage of this pseudo-anarchy in order to obtain the budget to fund their own particular interests.
It is just like the leader Yossi Beilin stated: The current Knesset presents a unique opportunity to make crucial decisions. Presumably, after the elections, there will not be a repeat of a coalition like the present one. Even if Livni’s Kadima party wins the election, according to preliminary surveys, the difference in their favor will not be large. “Livni will try to strengthen her own image, an image of change and purging unknown to the Israeli electorate”
The left-wing Israeli bloc is clearly weakened, primarily due to the great loss of seats that is expected to be seen in the left-wing party Avodá and the very likely disappearance of the Pensioners of Israel party.
In order to be able to achieve a coalition, in this hypothetical case, Livni must partner up with the Shas and other right-wing religious groups, or even with the Likud itself. All of the religious parties, and of course the Likud itself, deny that there is a possibility for true negotiation that could lead to a real peace agreement with both the Palestinians and Syria. Shimon Peres’s dream of a regional peace, which is the same dream that Livni and Barak want to make concrete, will again be thwarted by political pragmatism and the lack of something real on the horizons.
MAJOR PARTIES AND THE POLLS
With the elections three months away, the major political parties find themselves in the following situation:
Kadima: One of the two parties that appears to be in the running to get the most votes. In the coming days, Livni will try to strengthen her own image, an image of change and purging that, at this point in time, the Israeli electorate has not known for several elections. Still, the current minister of Foreign Affairs must justify why a party that emerged from nowhere, that lost its leader and founder, Ariel Sharon, that failed in the painful Lebanon war and was later led by one of the most corrupt politicians in the history of Israel, deserves to be at the helm of the country. This tarnished image presents a great challenge. Without a doubt, resorting to new elections has been Livni’s last choice, given that even a few months of government before the elections would have strengthened her image in an attempt to stand up to the cries that she lacks experience.
Every day, Avodá’s great hope, Ehud Barak, proves to be more of a problem than a solution” Likud: The second most likely party to triumph in the elections. As for Benjamin Netanyahu, the leader of Likud, his tactics will basically be twofold: on one hand, weaken his main political enemy, Tzipi Livni, by saying that the minister lacks experience, and on the other hand, to attribute the current strength of the Israeli economy to himself, arguing that this phenomenon is due to measures he put in place while in charge of the finance portfolio during Ariel Sharon’s government. Of course said allegation will omit the terrible and savage social consequences generated by this bloody economic policy, what with this being the era during which the poverty level shot up to heights that the small Jewish state had never before seen: Bibi did it! Only society’s short-term memory could bring this bold politician back to power, a power so coveted by the leader that it could bring him to pay high economic prices and accept highly disproportionate conditions to achieve a coalition, in this way strengthening the dangerous sectoral political model that threatens Israeli democracy.
Avodá: As for this battered party, which has gone almost a decade without finding a true leader, the current surveys indicate that its fall is almost inevitable. Every day, the party’s great hope, “It is expected that the elections in Israel’s main ally, the United States, will have some kind of influence” Ehud Barak, proves to be more of a problem than a solution. Very likely, the results of the forthcoming elections will signify the definitive end of his political career.
Shas: Even if the polls today give the Shas eight seats in the next Knesset, we must not forget that the voters of this party do not appeal to their conscience or their reason when it is time to vote, but unfortunately, they blindly accept the will of their all-powerful rabbi, Ovadia Yosef, instead. Therefore, this antidemocratic party, which is participating in the democratic process, will presumably have far more seats than the small number that are attributed to it today. Shas, a party whose political ideology is highly defined by the budgets that it is offered, declined Livni’s proposal of 950 million shekels, leading Israel to hold new elections. Shas knows that Netanyahu will offer more. What this party is not taking into account at the moment is that if the international economic crisis hits Israel hard in the upcoming months, no government will be able to provide it with the excessive funds that it tends to ask for to sell its support to the coalition.
THE ELECTIONS IN THE UNITED STATES
It is expected that the elections in Israel’s main ally will have some kind of influence. Traditionally, Israeli society prefers to have leaders who have excellent relations with American presidents. Presumably, a Barack Obama victory will be some type of advantage for Livni, while a McCain victory would benefit Netanyahu.
The people will once again have to choose leaders, leaders for a system that once again appears to be losing the fight against the dangerous strength of certain party sectors. When national interests are obscured by sectoral interests and the majority loses, a small minority wins. Perhaps Livni’s measure is not the most correct when analyzed from a Machiavellian point of view, but for the first time in many years a leader has decided to not pay the high price demanded for the post of prime minister.
Safe Democracy thanks Revista Horizonte for its kindness in allowing us to publish this analysis.