Saturday, January 26, 2013

Elections 2013 - My Thoughts

* I don't really think Bibi should be surprised with the Likud's poor showing.  They probably could have got 40 seats, or more, but they not made the same mistakes over and over again.  In my opinion, their biggest mistakes were not taking into account the large effect last year's social protests had on the Israeli electorate, their non-stop attacks on the Bayit Ha'Yehdui party, and their poor campaign.  While the Likud was weakened this election, they'll still have ample opportunities as the ruling party to regain the faith of the Israeli public.  More success stories like that of Moshe Kachlon's with the cellphone price drop, and increasing the Haredi involvement in the workforce and army/national service, will undoubtedly increase their popularity and most likely, seats in the Knesset too.

* Yair Lapid and Yesh Atid's performance in the 2013 elections was almost expected.  They were the only party that directly confronted what the aforementioned social protests of 2011 were about.  The 19 mandates the Israeli electorate gave them is a tremendous platform to start making changes.  Centerist parties don't last long in this country, and to survive Lapid will need to advance many of his campaign promises.  Failure to do so will push many of his voters back to Likud or Labor, and the fact most newspapers are linking him to the Foreign Ministry (when the Finance Ministry should be his target) could be a worrying sign.  Though there's less glitter with the Finance Ministry, it is the Ministry he needs to start enacting the changes he was discussing in his election campaign.  Time will tell ... Good luck to him.

* Nafatli Bennett and Ha'Bayit Ha'Yehudi were the other success story of this year's election.  It will be interesting to see how he adjusts to the political world, but based on what he's done as a soldier and businessman, one can only hope he's as successful when pushing his plans for our economy, house prices and children's education.  The party has an ability to become a major force in coming elections, but will need to have a more diverse party list if it's to do so.

* Shelly Yachimovich strengthened Labor, but despite this, it already seems she'll be ousted in next year's Labor primaries.  Her reluctance to talk about her stance on the Palestinians cost her dearly, and her closing the door on a coalition with Bibi early on also hurt Labor's chances of being a larger player over the coming years.  What still amazes me is that a party that had similar social plans to Yesh Atid has a leader that opposed the cottage cheese protests and cellphone cost reduction.  She will need to make a lot of noise over the coming fourteen months to remain Labor's leader.

* Aryeh Deri's return to Shas did nothing for their popularity thankfully.  While they still pulled eleven seats, their place in a government coalition is no longer guaranteed.  To get in, they'll need to compromise and start pushing more of the Yeshiva students into the army and workforce.  Stay out, and the change may be even more drastic.  Either way, one can only hope their power - and ability to continually mudy R' Ovadia Yosef's name and reputation - continues to wane.

* Surely Tzippi Livni will get the hint?

* If the Knesset's members were only based on the votes of soldiers and diplomats, we'd have had the following make up:

Likud: 32
Lapid: 22
Bayit: 20
Avoda: 13
Shas: 10
Aguda: 3
Livni: 5
Meretz: 5
Aleh Yarok: 5
Otzma: 3
Kadima: 2

There's a lot of interesitng discussion points here, but two things stuck out for me.  Shas getting 10 seats shows how a large percentage of their voters are non-Haredi Mizrachim.  Also, the fact Aguda gets 3 seats means we have a small percentage of Ashkenazi Haredim in the army - may that number steadily rise in the coming years.

* Prediction for next election:  Unfortunately, Ehud Olmert will return as head of Kadima and try and be our prime minister again.

* I was extremely disappointed after Election night.  No, I didn't care about Bibi, or Yair, or Naftali, or Tzippi.  I cared that R' Haim Amsalem, the head of the Am Shalem party, didn't get enough votes to see his party represented in the Knesset.  R' Amsalem is a rare figure.  A leader who popped out of the Shas world and demanded a return to the moderate Judaism Mizrachi & Sefardi Judaism preached before the rise of Shas.  He endangered his family's success in the world he called 'home,' and put his political future on the line to do what's right.  He peaked too early unfortunately and though the Israeli electorate did notice him, it was not enough to give him more than the 48,000+ votes he garnered.  I can only hope R' Amsalem doesn't give up on his vision and message, and gives the Israeli voters another chance in the next elections. 

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