Monday, August 08, 2011

The Electoral Power of Israeli Protesters

The 300,000-person protest in Tel-Aviv on Saturday night was an uplifting sight. The Israeli people are angry, and they won't take it anymore!

But then, looking at some polls that came out this weekend, it seems like the protests might be giving a false impression. According to those polls, if elections were held today, the next Knesset would look more or less the same as the current one. The Likud would get just about as many seats as it has in the current Knesset, which is true of the entire right wing & ultra-orthodox bloc. The main difference would be that Kadima would lose some seats, which would go to Labor and Meretz. Also, Ehud Barak and his new party would not get into the next parliament.

According to a Jerusalem Post/Globes poll, if the leaders of the tent protests ran as a party, they'd win 20 seats. But even then, they'd mostly take votes away from other parties on the left and center. They'd take a few seats away from Likud, too, but not enough to deny Netanyahu another term as prime minister. Besides, this is all very hypothetical, since the Tent Party probably will never be established (after all, they say they are nonpartisan). It's also very hypothetical for another reason : the next elections are only in October 2013, and none of the coalition members have any interest in early elections.

The dissatisfaction in the streets and the poll results show one thing: Israelis are not happy with Netanyahu, but see no better alternative. I can relate, though I'd never vote for Netanyahu or any of his coalition partners. While I think Tzippi Livni would be a better prime minister than Netanyahu, I think her party, Kadima, is just as crappy as Likud. The ratio of true liberals to nationalists in both parties is roughly the same.

Instead of dispairing, let's wait and see what happens during the next two years. Maybe the tents will change Israeli politics after all.

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