Tuesday, November 29, 2005

"Political earthquake " Part II

The effects of the "political earthquake" in Israeli politics still seems to taking its toll. Whilst the defections from the Likud have stopped for the moment, Labour's lost Ramon and Itzchak and next possibly Peres (could the Nobel Laurette peace winner join Sharon's party???).

So here are my predictions 4 months away from the polls. I predict that Bibi Netanyahu will win the Likud primaries and so will be facing Peretz and Sharon. The National Religious Party and National Union will merge.

I predict the following election breakdown in terms of Knesset seats:

Labour - 30 (currently 21)
Likud - 16 (currently 40)
Kedima - 29 - (currently 0)
Shas - 6 (currently 11)
Meretz - 5 (currently 6)
Agudat/Degel - 6 (currently 5)
Hadash/NDA/United Arab list - 10 (currently 9)
Shinui - 4 (currently 14)
National Union (merged with NRP) - 14 (currently 13)

I am predicting a Labour win. Its a small chance but I think its a distinct possibility. I'm also predicting the end of the small parties - which will become significantly less powerful and far smaller.

For Labour to win the following things need to occur:

1. Labour needs to retain its traditional Labour base from the lure of Kadima. It also needs to win back some its traditional voters it lost to Sharon at the last elections.

2. Labour needs to win a large Mizrachim vote.

3. As time goes on, hopefully Sharon's party will lose its novely and gloss.

4. Labour must promote its star recruits - Braverman, Ayalon and any more that come there way. It would not surprise if Peretz recruits more big names to Labour much like Kadima is doing at the moment.

5. Peretz must prove to be a credible political leader - both on socioeconomic and political issues. In other words, no stuff ups!! He needs to stress the link between his position vis a vis Israel/Palestine and the economic condition.

6. A little bit of luck - hopefully a scandal or two rocking the other parties would come in handy. A leak from the Kern affair - remember that affair from the last elections.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

The "political earthquake"

The developments in Israeli politics over the past 2 weeks have been huge - the biggest developments no doubt since Likud came to power in 1977.

To summarise the developments:

1. Election of Peretz as head of the Labour party - the significance of this is that unlike other Labour leaders, Peretz has the potential to win over large sections of the working and lower socio-economic groups, in particular Mizrachim voters.

2. Sharon bolts Likud to create new centrist party bringing along with him a number of senior MP's from Likud.

Elections are now scheduled in March. As I see it the big losers will be a number of the smaller parties namely Shinui, Shas and to a lesser extent Meretz. The biggest of the losers will obviously be the Likud who I would say will get less then 20 seats in the next elections.

At present it looks like Sharon's centrist party would comfortably win over Labour. Sharon is likely to win a number of key sectors in particular centrist voters who were previous Labour and Likud voters and Russian voters who seem to have trust in Sharon's strong leadership. Things, however, may change in the next few month.

There is still a distinct possibility that Labour could win. To do so, Peretz must firstly strengthen the Mizrachim base which is beginning to form around him; he also needs to win a greater share of the crucial Russian vote. Above all Peretz needs to present himself as a credible and strong political operator if he is to "steal" any votes from Sharon. Peretz has recruited 2 important figures in his inner circle - BGU President Braverman a potential finance minister and former GSS head Ami Ayalon - a potential defence minister. The two appointment are critical in strengthening Peretz's economic and security credentials.

Only a few weeks ago commentators were declaring the death of the Labour party - and indeed they had every right to suggest this. Gideon Levy wrote a column suggesting even that Sharon should head the Labour party! Sharon, for his part looked like staying in Likud after averting early primaries.

Well the game has changed and boy will it be interesting. This will be an essential election. Attempts to resolve the Israeli/Palestinian conflict can not be delayed any further. Time is on neither parties side. Whoever wins will have a daughnting task ahead of them.