Media claims that the Likud has become a far-right party are largely unfounded. A closer look at the Likud list reveals that the Likud remains a center-right party. There are only two new faces among the Likud’s top 21: ultra-nationalist Moshe Feiglin and former Kadima MK Tzachi Hanegbi, who cancel each other out in terms of nationalist leanings. Although center-leaning Ministers Benny Begin, Dan Meridor and Michael Eitan are gone so are nationalist candidates such as MK Zion Pinyan and Deputy Minister Lea Nass. Nass voted against the disengagement in 2005 and almost quit the current government over the Outpost Bill. A Likud moving to the far right would not include Top 5 slots for Ministers Silvan Shalom and Yisrael Katz, both of whom voted for the disengagement.
The truth is that the Likud selected more or less the same people they did four years ago. What changed is that the twelve candidates running on Netanyahu’s list of recommended choices had limited success. The Likud enjoys being a party in power, but it seems they don’t tolerate the Prime Minister dictating whom to vote for and who the ministers should be. I think Ministers Begin, Dichter, Meridor and Eitan were punished for being on Netanyahu’s list of preferred candidates, not for being too far to the left. Benny Begin, who opposed the disengagement, is to the right on almost every issue compared to those who supported the disengagement in 2005 such as Shalom, Yisrael Katz, Yuval Steinitz, Hanegbi, Limor Livnat and Carmel Shama. Begin chose to run as a Bibi guy without much of a campaign and found himself off the list. Former Likud MK Zalman Shoval and former Kadima MKs Arie Bibi and Yulia Shamalov Berkovich were also rejected by Likud voters despite Bibi photo ops, as was conservative Deputy Minister Nass. Ministers Steinitz and Livnat fell down the Knesset list out of the top 15 as did other Netanyahu-backed candidates former Minister Hanegbi, nationalist Deputy Minister Gila Gamliel and MK Carmel Shama.
Netanyahu also lost in the designated regional slots, as economist Shlomo Maoz lost the Dan slot and MK Alali Adamso lost the immigrant slot. The good news for Netanyahu is that the nationalist candidates who had hoped to win those slots lost as well.
The new Likud feels the same as the old Likud in that each camp is represented by a few people in realistic spots. The order has changed a little, but that change is not expected to have much of an impact on ministry assignments or the general agenda of the Likud. The real difference in the 2013 Likud roster is that the Netanyahu-endorsed candidates faired poorly, and now Netanyahu will have to work with the center-right candidates in his party whom he did not endorse.