In Israel's election campaign, a new party is formed almost every day

Tuesday saw both a new faction and a split in an existing one

January 09, 2019 11:19

With three months to go until Israelis go to the polls on April 9, barely a day goes by without a new party being formed, or an existing one splitting in two.

On Tuesday, both of those things happened: former IDF Brigadier-General Gal Hirsh launched his “Magen Yisrael” party, while veteran Arab-Israeli legislator Ahmad Tibi announced his Arab Renewal party was splitting from the Joint List, of which it had been part in the last Knesset.

This proliferation of lists has led to the bizarre situation where at least six vaguely centrist parties — Labour, Yesh Atid, Kulanu, Gesher, Hatnuah and Israel Resilience — all nearly indistinguishable when it comes to their platforms, are competing for the same voters.

Israel Resilience (“Hosen Yisrael” in Hebrew), the party founded only two weeks ago by former IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz, is now in second place after Likud in some polls — even though Mr Gantz has not made a single political statement.

With only 120 members, the Knesset is one of the smallest national parliaments in the world. Despite that, the number of parties represented in it remains high.

In an attempt to limit the number of smaller parties, the electoral threshold — the share of votes parties must win before they can win seats — has been raised over the years, and now stands at 3.25 per cent.

But in 2015, ten parties still passed the threshold and this year, there will almost inevitably be more.

The threshold also means that the votes for parties that fall short are lost, forcing some factions to join forces and combine their forces.

They have until February 21, the deadline for parties to register their candidates with the central election commission.

One major consolidation of parties being mooted is of the three Charedi parties Agudath Yisrael and Degel Ha’Torah, which already cooperate in the United Torah Judaism list, joining forces with Shas.

In all the polls so far, Likud is in first place by a fairly large margin, with nearly a quarter of the votes.

However, with so many parties expected in the next Knesset, forming a coalition will be exceedingly difficult for Benjamin Netanyahu, especially as he intends to demand that coalition partners commit to supporting his government even if he is indicted for bribery.

January 09, 2019 11:19

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