Random commentary and senseless acts of blogging.
The first Republican president once said, "While the people retain their virtue and their vigilance, no administration by any extreme of wickedness or folly can seriously injure the government in the short space of four years." If Mr. Lincoln could see what's happened in these last three-and-a-half years, he might hedge a little on that statement.
Prisoners of Azkaban
Wednesday, January 29, 2003
Ariel Sharon has two directions to go in following his election victory yesterday. His Likud party will have 37 seats in the next Knesset; he needs 61 to form a government. He can form a right-wing coalition consisting of Likud, the right wing secular party National Union (7), the settler/religious NRP (5), Sephardic religious Shas (11), and Ashkenazim religious UTJ (5), total seats 65. Another possibility is a secular coalition built on Likud, Labor (19), Shinui (15), and Am Ehad (4), total seats 75. The Yisrael b'Aliyah party(2), secular, moderately conservative, and supported mostly by Russian immigrants, could fit into either of the above coalitions, but it would be vital for the first which, without it, could be brought down by the defection of any member party. The left wing Meretz party (6) is a possibility for a secular coalition, but probably too dovish to be comfortable in a government led by Sharon.
Sharon has already said he wants to avoid the narrow right wing coalition; but there are plenty of obstacles to the broader one. Shinui is determinedly secular and says it won't enter any coalition that includes the religious parties; Labor leader Mitzna has vowed to stay out of any coalition with Sharon. Sharon seemed to be appealing to Mitzna, or other Labor MKs, to reconsider in his victory speech:
"Narrow political considerations and things said in the heat of the campaign must not now turn into an obstacle in the path of national unity. Bitter things were said during the campaign, from all sides, and weighty accusations were hurled. This is the way of elections, I have already been in many election campaigns.I am used to this.
"But today, nonetheless, we must put this aside. We must put the hostility of the struggle behind us. I excuse and forgive all those who tried to hurt me, slander me, and tarnish me. I excuse and forgive, because what unites us is more important that what divides us."
The best guess is that enough of Labor will be ready to go into the government for Sharon to form a majority. He may also bring in National Union. If he does form a government with Shinui but no religious parties, I believe it will be the first one in Israeli history. Historically, the religious parties have been very convenient in building coalitions; they made financial demands for the support of their yeshivot and other institutions, but few political demands. Past governments found the Knesset votes adequate compensation for buying up religious support, but fighting against such special treatment is the main raison d'etre of Shinui, which will make such compromises far harder.
Ha'Aretz has a breakdown of the various possibilities, complete with pie charts.