Joel Taubman
Joel Taubman
There are lies, damned lies, and statistics

How to Avoid a Fifth Election

Naftali Bennett, Head of the Yamina Party (Wikimedia Commons)

If you want to avoid a fifth election, vote for Naftali Bennett

A very simple math equation will decide if Israel ends the deadlock or just sets up another election. The equation is: will Naftali Bennett’s Yamina get at least as many seats as the Arab parties that (for various reasons) don’t join coalitions. That’s it.

Yamina ≥ Joint Arab List + Ra’am

Plenty of pundits state the obvious. After Netanyahu and Gantz’s unhappy divorce, Bennett is the only one who can and will join either side . What commentators are missing is the message to voters that just want an end to elections. The answer for those who want a state budget to finally pass. The solution that will keep election signs down for more than a few months. That answer is Naftali Bennett.

A Vote for Yamina Supports Both Coalitions

Bennett’s Yamina stands between the right and the rest. Unlike in prior elections, their seats can truly go either way. Voting Yamina is a vote for both coalitions. A way to (almost) vote twice. And if Yamina has more seats than those who won’t sit in a coalition, then the elections are over. Call it simplistic, but split the blocks into four groups. For-Bibi, Anti-Bibi, Yamina, and Outside-Coalitions. As long as Yamina is larger than those who won’t join, then you will always have at least 61 seats for a coalition. It is a mathematical certainty.

If Yamina has even one more seat than those outside, then at least one coalition will have 61 or more. This is true no matter how the other votes are cast. And if Yamina has the same number of seats as those outside, one coalition will probably have 61. It could still be too close like the 50-50-10-10 scenario above, but the slightest fluctuation will make 61 for one side. It is only when Yamina has fewer seats than the outside that a coalition becomes unlikely if not mathematically impossible.

More than Math

But wait, this isn’t just about math. Sure, a narrow right wing coalition led by Benjamin Netanyahu would probably hold together, but an anti-Bibi coalition? How could anyone hold together so many small parties? How can a pro-settler Yamina on one end sit with far left Meretz on the other end?

Because it is in their interest.

Bennett can be Prime Minister (in a rotation or otherwise) and Meretz can ditch Bibi while forcing policy moderation. The right side of this coalition will not want to give up the Prime Minister’s residence to again play second fiddle to Netanyahu. The rest will know that the broad coalition is their only way to have some semblance of centrist policy and be in power. The left needs wins wherever possible as long as the right and religious parties remain ascendant at almost 80 seats (and they know it).

But more than that, the most unifying figure of the Anti-Bibi coalition is Netanyahu. Even when Netanyahu is out of the Prime Minister’s residence, he won’t be gone. His open trial will start shortly after the election and will only strengthen his supporters’ resolve. In this scenario, Netanyahu will be the main opposition figure. Everyone in the Anti-Bibi coalition will know he’ll be seeking his old job. The Anti-Bibi coalition is not stable in the long run, but Meretz, Yamina, and everyone in between will play nice as long as Bibi is breathing down their necks.

If Naftali Bennett’s Yamina gets more seats than the Arab parties, then this will be the last election for a while. And if they tie, it is still very likely. So vote ב for Yamina if you want the deadlock to end.

About the Author
Enthusiast of Israel, Polling Data, American Freedoms, & UVA Sports. GW Law class of 2023. VA->AZ->VA
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