Israelis Go to the Polls. Who Will Win the Israeli Elections?

by Avi Abelow

Tomorrow morning Israelis will go to the polls to decide on the next leadership and government for Israel. Here a first time Israeli voter, film makerIgal Hecht, asks politicians and journalists for quick soundbytes of advice about the Israeli elections. (this is a trailer for the movie “My Election” that he is producing).

Who Will Win? Talking Through the Challenges to “Win”

First on has to understand the Israeli electorate. After two decades of talks of “peace”, most Israelis today realize that we have no peace partner to make peace with. Most Israelis today no longer believe peace is possible. Hence, no political party is talking about peace or the two-state solution. As opposed to people abroad who blame Israel for the absence of peace, a majority of Israelis understand that everytime we have given away land to our Arab neighbors it has only brought more terror and bloodshed. Hence, most of the Israeli public are more security hawks, or as we call “right”. The Likud party is the major party of the center-right, and PM Netanyahu is the leader of the Likud.

This leaves the political parties on the “left”, like Labour and Meretz, with a problem, because it leaves them with too small a voter base to win the elections.

That is why Israel now has a “center” party called “Blue & White”. It actually includes many people who are really from the left, together with a few people from the right, hence they are branding themselves as a “center” party. However, the core issue that connects all the candidates in this party is that they all want to get rid of PM Benjamin Netanyahu. The left is excited about the possibility that “Blue & White” wins, because that is their only possiblity of joining a government that would be center-left.

So who will win? Well, again, Israel is a parliamentary system. The winner is not necessarily the party, or party leader, who gets the most votes, but the party, and party leader, that is able to create a coalition of at least 61 parliament members (A majority of the 120 seats in Parliament).

Most political pundits say that Benjamin Netanyahu has the most chance of making a coalition of 61 seats, because polls suggest that the center-right parties will have more than 61 seats all together.

However, this is not a sure thing at all. Some of the right-wing parties might not cross the threshold to even get any seats, and some of the so-called “center-right” parties, that Netanyahu is counting on, might join a “Blue & White” coalition, and leave Benjamin Netanyahu and the Likud in the opposition.

So the answer is, we don’t know who will win. However, can tell you this. If PM Netanyahu does win, it will be another miraculous win because there are a lot of powers working together to ensure that he loses. The Israeli elite in the media, culture and judicial establishment all want him to lose. So this election season has been filled with headlines and even legal scoops that have all been damaging to Netanyahu. Even with this, his party, the Likud, is still running head to head with his major contender, the “Blue & White” party.

Pundits are saying that the elections will be decided by the turnout results. Which camp will have more voters turn out to vote? The anti-Bibi left is much more motivated to come out to vote, so the fear is that even though a majority of the Israeli population is right wing, the left will succeed in bringing out more motivated voters and win the elections. Tangentially, some say that the media has actually painted the picture that Netanyahu has the biggest chance of becoming Prime Minister on purpose to kill the motivation of the right-wing voters, thinking that there is no reason for them to go out and vote. Some are saying that this is part of the left’s strategy, a lesson learned from last elections when they were constantly pushing Netanyahu’s contender as a shoo-in winner. Why did he lose? Because the voters on the left thought that they didn’t have to vote, since he was a shoo-in. Hence the critical importance of the voting turnout results!

Netanyahu’s Miraculous Win in 2015

Back in the 2015 election, Netanyahu had to overcome incredible challenges to win the elections. Not everyone might remember, but US President Obama allowed the State Department to fund an anti-Netanyahu organization called V15 that was working to help Netanyahu’s opponents.

The challenges were great, and Bibi was able to overcome them all to win. The following video clearly shows the miraculous feeling of the day with Netanyahu’s win back then.

Deep Dive on the Israeli Elections

In the following video you can learn about the major parties running in the elections, a bit of a deep dive on the Parties to also better understand Israeli society.

(the video begins clearly at around the 1 minute mark)

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