Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Staying Put?

Can Livni do it? (Photo: Modified from Wikicommons)

It looks like Olmert might be serious about staying put. If the Prime Minister refuses to resign, Peretz will have little reason to leave his post either. Both leaders face significant opposition from their own parties, but that in itself is not enough to compel them to leave. The same thing apparently goes for their dismal public approval ratings. Even if the planned demonstrations in Tel Aviv turn out to draw a large number of protesters (not a given at all), Olmert and Peretz might not yield.

Tsipi Livni, it seems, is still hoping that she will be able to seize the reins from the Prime Minister via a "musical chairs" rearrangement of the cabinet and coalition. Livni would take the premiership, while Labor MK Ami Ayalon would replace Peretz in the defence ministry. But Olmert knows that if he doesn't resign and is forced out by a no-confidence vote, Livni and Ayalon will face first internal primaries and then elections. Two former prime ministers, Benjamin Netanyahu (Likud) and Ehud Barak (Labor), both security heavyweights, will surely attempt a comeback, and who can predict whether Livni will end up on top?

Everyone knows the poll numbers, but incumbent MKs will be watching public protests closely. A massive demonstration could convince the MKs of the governing coalition to abandon a sinking ship. Failing that, those MKs on the fence might decide that the Israeli public has as little interest in new elections as they do.

Knesset factions in the governing coalition:

Kadima: 29
Labor: 19
Shas: 12
Yisrael Beitenu: 11
Pensioners: 7
Total: 78


Likud: 12
National Union - NRP: 9
United Torah Judaism: 6
Meretz: 5
Ra'am-Ta'al: 4
Balad: 3
Hadash: 3
Total: 42

Passage of a no-confidence motion requires a simple majority. Assuming that the entire opposition is united behind such a motion, they would still need 19 votes from the coalition. Will enough members of the government vote to imperil their seats in the Knesset and/or their ministerial portfolios?

In Labor, there is widespread dissatisfaction with Peretz, and a feeling that continuing to stay in this government will hurt the party. Many MKs would vote against the government.

Shas will consult its spiritual authorities; they will be very careful in their decision. The party will vote as as a bloc - more likely for the government than against.

Yisrael Beitenu's Avigdor Liberman has been very quiet. He was, needless to say, entirely untouched by the Winograd report and remains a clean candidate. He can bide his time but might gain even more seats in the elections. Decision will depend on a careful reading of the Russian electorate.

The Pensioners will lose in a future election, as people are more likely to vote for established parties given the sense of insecurity. They will support the government, unless they decide to make some kind of moral stand.


Emmanuel said...

Other than the Likud, all parties in the current Knesset would risk losing seats by going to early elections now. That's true even for the opposition parties. For that reason, I think a "musical chairs" scenario is the most likely outcome.

I hope Olmert won't have the nerve to fire Tzipi Livni, his most popular minister and the only one to be praised in the Winograd Report.

Aardvark EF-111B said...

After being blinded by flashy media for too long, your post is very informative indeed.....

Keep on!

Anonymous said...

are you going to the Jimmy Carter talk? I would like to hear your commentary.

Amos said...

Yes, I was there. There will be a report soon.

No offense to the guy, but is he going a bit senile? This is not meant to dismiss his arguments, but there were a couple of moments that had me confused. Might not be related to senility though.