Haaretz early elections snapshot / Likud activists predict landslide win (HA´ARETZ NEWS) By Ophir Bar-Zohar, Barak Ravid and Yair Ettinger 05/01/12)
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General elections could be held as early as August, according to
political sources. The time slot being considered ranges from the end
of August to the beginning of November, which is when the United
States will be electing its next president.
As the Knesset´s summer session opens on Monday, it seems the focus
will be setting a date for the elections. Over the past few days, the
question of whether there would be elections this year has been
replaced with the question of when this year they should take place.
Here is a rundown of how the largest Israeli political parties are
gearing up for the likelihood of early general elections.
Likud – Activists say they will reach 50 seats
Likud is relying on polls that repeatedly show that it is expected to
win the upcoming elections by a large margin, alongside worries that
early elections may hurt the party´s standing. Political sources
estimated on Sunday that Netanyahu is interested in a snap election
that will take place before the High Holidays, although it is
possible that they will be delayed to a later time.
Activist Eli Neger said "we want elections. Can anyone beat
Netanyahu?" Likud activist who arrived Sunday to a party meeting
expressed satisfaction from the potential of early elections, and
expected the Likud to win more than 50 seats. Shlomo Madmon, a party
member, is looking forward to the party´s probably quantum
jump. "When we get 45 mandates, we will be able to control all the
governmental posts," he said. Many Likud MKs, which were elected as
district representatives in the previous elections, will have to
compete in a country-wide list, a change that will make the party
primaries all the more competitive.
Labor – No money for polls
Israel´s Labor Party is enthusiastic about the upcoming elections, as
different polls forecast that the party will significantly increase
its number of seats in the Knesset. Party leader Shelly Yachimovich
constantly announces that she is ready for elections - only last week
did the party organize a meeting over its ideology with a show of
force of over a thousand activists, which passed the afternoon with
discussions over party principles.
Yachimovich announced on Sunday that the party is currently working
on organizing its campaign headquarters, which will be backed up by
70 smaller associate campaign headquarters, which will be mostly run
by volunteers. The party is in debt of more than NIS 50 million,
which will likely affect the handling of the campaign. "We don´t have
a dime for polls," said one party member.
Kadima – Worried over summer elections
For Kadima, the elections are arriving slightly too early. Party
members would have preferred that they take place during October or
November, even if principally they are interested in early elections.
The date Mofaz suggested (October 16) will allow the party to try and
make economic gains, as well as gains in the polls. However, current
polls show that the party will potentially lose half of its mandates,
which will also significantly affect its economic future.
In addition, party members are still waiting for Tzipi Livni´s
decision over whether she will stay in Kadima. The party has begun
talks with other opposition parties, and has already had internal
discussions regarding a date for its upcoming primaries. Kadima MKs
clarified that they are expecting the election date to be determined
between the coalition and the opposition, as had been done previously.
Yisrael Beiteinu – Lieberman in the crosshairs
Yisrael Beiteinu maintains stability in the polls. The fact that the
party does not hold internal elections, and that the party list is
determined by the chairman and an elections commission makes the
preparations for the general elections easier in comparison to other
parties. The most significant question facing the party has t do with
the legal procedures against party leader Avigdor Lieberman.
The procedures have taken place in the last several months, and
should they be resolved in a plea bargain, Lieberman may end up
retiring after one term, which may well end in the upcoming
elections. The latest polls show that Yisrael Beiteinu is maintaining
strength in terms of mandates, although things may change should the
Likud fortify its position and other parties rise as potential
Lieberman said on Friday that his party is no longer obligated to the
coalition, and is currently trying to lead the discussion over the
drafting of the ultra-Orthodox into the IDF.
Atzmaut – On the threshold
The Atzmaut party is not at all interested in early elections. MK
Einat Wilf said yesterday that "we are preparing and will continue to
prepare, but we will not push for early elections as we are not
interested in them." After months of speculation over whether party
members would be guaranteed places on the Likud Knesset list, the
party has stated that it seeks to run on a separate list, after a
backlash from Likud MKS and members.
The latest polls show that the party has been able to reach the
threshold which would allow it to compete in the elections. Atzmaut
members are sure that after passing the threshold, its electoral base
is sure to grow. The party will not hold elections, and it is
believed that chairman Ehud Barak will have the final say on the
Yair Lapid – 10,000 volunteers
Over the past couple days, Yair Lapid has submitted a request to
register his new party "Yesh Atid." According to Lapid, the
submission is another step in the fulfillment of the goal he set for
himself – establishing a strong and significant political force which
will bring about a change in the priorities of the country and will
give a voice to the middle class.
Lapid´s submission came attached with a list of the party´s eight
goals. The first of which is a change in national priorities, by
putting an emphasis on the day-to-day life of the citizens; a change
in the system of government, equality in education and military
service; a war on corruption; economic growth and efficiency,
including a lowering of the cost of living and a reduction in housing
prices; passing an education law in cooperation with teacher
organizations, cancelling most bagrut examinations, and granting more
autonomy to schools; proposing a constitution that will deal with the
tense relationships between all groups in the country; striving for a
peace agreement based on the two-state solution, while maintaining
the large settlement blocs and a guarantee that Israel will remain a
state with a Jewish majority.
According to Lapid, him and his supporters were able to "establish
the "Yesh Atid" party, because the Israeli middle-class, the working
and creative sector which pays taxes and serves in the military, has
no voice and no one that will protect the interests that matter most
to it: education, health, transportation, housing, the war on
corruption and the rising cost of living." According to Lapid, at
least 10,000 supporters have joined the campaign.
Shas – Will Aryeh Deri join the race?
Shas, along with United Torah Judaism, is taking part in the process
of early elections, but will do everything in order to delay it until
after the holidays in September. Rabbis are likely to make it
difficult to allow yeshiva members to participate in the campaign.
The political forces are waiting to see what former chairman Aryeh
Deri will do. Will he run on the same ticket as Shas, declare
cooperation with his rival Eli Yishai, or perhaps will decide to run
independently, in which case he would risk going against Rabbi Ovadia
Yosef. Deri´s associates promise an answer in the coming days,
although it may not be a decisive one. Ultra-Orthodox politics thrive
on last-minute decisions, and it seems that the Deri saga will keep
the system busy for the next couple of months.
Shas leader and Interior Minister Eli Yishai said on Sunday that his
party is ready for elections. "Should the prime minister and foreign
minister want elections, we will have no problem with that," he
said. "This is the not the goal – the goal is the public. There is no
party that is better prepared for elections than Shas." According to
Yishai, the campaign began over a year ago, and is "full of hatred
toward the Haredi sector." (© Copyright 2012 Ha´aretz 05/01/12)
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