Israelis are going to the polls today in a redo of their national elections from April, which ultimately failed to produce a governing coalition. The possible outcomes are:
- Bibi and his potential coalition allies combine to win a clear majority, which is easily enough seats in Knesset to form a clear majority coalition.
- Bibi and his potential coalition allies win barely enough seats to try to form a majority coalition, which would be a potential repeat of April’s results.
- Neither Bibi, nor his opponent Benny Gantz of the Kahol Lavan (Blue and White) Party, and their potential allies are able to win a clear majority and are unable to form a governing coalition. This could lead to either a unity government, which could have several variants, or the need for a third election if no governing coalition can be formed.
- Gantz and his potential coalition allies win barely enough seats to try to form a majority coalition, which would be a potential repeat of April’s results.
- Gantz and his potential coalition allies combine to win a clear majority, which is easily enough seat in Knesset to form a clear majority coalition.
The first and last possible outcomes are clear and would put an end to the limping along, no clear governing majority caretaker government of the past five months. The second and third potential outcomes would create incredible pressure on Likud to dump Bibi in order to either enter into a unity government/coalition with Kahol Lavan led by Gantz or to try to use getting rid of Bibi to entice just enough recalcitrant members of Knesset to join a slim Likud led coalition. Bibi would, of course, be working to ensure he doesn’t get dumped by promising everyone anything he could possibly give them in exchange for them not dumping him. The fourth potential outcome, a narrow Kahol Lavan win, would lead to a scramble similar to what happened in April that might or might not lead to the actual formation of an Israeli government. Finally, the fifth outcome, a clear Kahol Lavan win makes Gantz the prime minister.
I want to focus a minute on the first two outcomes. If Bibi’s potential coalition either wins outright or ekes out a slim one or two seat victory like they did in April, we’re likely to see something very, very, very bad happen. A clear, outright victory for Bibi and his partners will not just empower Bibi. It will also force Bibi to reward his partners, because he’ll need their support to undermine the criminal charges he’s facing. For all that pundits in the US have speculated that the President is running in 2020 on an unofficial platform of reelection or prison, Bibi actually is running today on an official platform of reelection or prison. If he gets reelected he is going to push through legislation that makes it impossible to prosecute him and that weakens Israel’s supreme court and criminal justice system. To do this he’ll need the support of his coalition partners in either a clear and convincing victory or a narrow one. Either way, this gives the more ideologically extreme, more nationalistic, more religiously extreme, and more neo-fascist politicians and their political parties incredible amounts of leverage over him and would give them even more power going forward. Everyone who has been worried about Israel’s illiberal turn as a result of Netanyahu’s long misrule* will be amazed by just how much worse things could and would get. The laundry list of retrograde and revanchist political, social, religious, militaristic, and nationalistic actions such a Bibi led government would take, all so Bibi won’t have to face justice, should make us all concerned. Bibi will do anything and everything to avoid having to face justice. He’s desperate and his coalition partners know it! That gives them all the power in the relationship. And it looks like he’s already up to his usual tricks. The Times of Israel is reporting that Likud has once again installed cameras outside Arab polling places and then leaked that they did so. This is clearly an act of intimidation to suppress the Israeli Arab vote, which would likely benefit Bibi and Likud.
And we’ve had a DDOS attack on Kahol Lavan’s website on election day!
— Noga Tarnopolsky (@NTarnopolsky) September 17, 2019
While we wait for the election results to come in later this afternoon/early this evening, here are some links for those that want to follow what’s going on or check in occasionally.
Anshel Pfeffer’s Twitter feed. (Pfeffer recently wrote a political biography of Bibi)
That should do it for now. I’ll be back later today with updates regarding the ongoing meshugas.
* Kagan’s essay is, overall, very well written and quite thought provoking. I think it has one major flaw, which is it fails to grapple with the reality that a major Israeli political philosophy, Revisionist Zionism, which is the ideology of Likud, has always been illiberal. Revisionist Zionism, which is at the core of Likud’s ideology and the political philosophy of Netanyahu and his father, are rooted in the beliefs and teachings of Ze’ev Jabotinsky. Jabotinsky’s ideological views were always fascist. The root is might makes right. And on the continuum of fascism, from the social corporatism of Switzerland to racist/religious supremacist fascism at the farthest right extreme, which was embodied in NAZIsm, Jabotinsky’s beliefs are a Jewish racist/religious supremacist fascism. This ideology has been politically ascendent in Israel over the past twenty years of Bibi being the Israeli Prime Minister.