Thursday, January 19, 2006

What the Polls say

A Ha'aretz - Channel 10 poll, suggests that Kadima is leaking voters in the direction of the Likud and Labour who are also gaining at the expense of Shinui. Kadima is apparently down from 44 to 41, whilst Labour and Likud climbing from 16 to 19 and 13 to 17 respectively.

Anyone with half a brain can see that the poll doesn't really tell you anything new - the sample size of 625 people is not really big enough to reveal that much and with a margin of error of 3 - 4%, a few seats lost can easily be regained in another poll - no need for Olmert to be calling emergency meetings just yet.

What is far more interesting however is that assuming Kadima wins 41 seats or 44 and Labour / Likud each take between 13 or 19 seats, even very basic arithmetic shows that if Kadima makes a coalition with one or other of these two parties, that will mean somewhere in the region of 55 - 60 seats with a possibility of being able to form a majority coalition involving just 2 political parties.

After each election, the electorate is subjected to some fairly disgusting political horse trading; Shinui refusing to sit with the religious parties; Shas and Yisrael Ba'Aliyah fighting over the Interior Ministry; in short the sort of stupid turf wars which could conceivably be largely avoided if we were to have 2 big parties controlling things with perhaps one smaller party to make up the numbers. Small parties would be unable to hold the Government to ransom with the threat of leaving the coalition if some demand were not met - quite simply, we could find ourself with a greater degree of stability than we have seen for a long time.

Assuming that this will end up as the rough distribution of seats among the 3 big parties, the teaser is - where will Kadima find its main ally? With an increasingly hawkish Likud, which will torpedo any moves towards territorial concession or with a Labour party concentrating on peddling economic policies that went out with the Berlin Wall? Could we conceivably see a Government headed by Ehud Olmert, bringing in alternately the Dovish Labour party when pushing in the Diplomatic / Peace / Security arena and the capitalist, Bibi-led Likud when taking the battle to the Unions?

The other possibility of course, is that Kadima will not be able to tempt the other big parties with Volvos and portfolios and we'll be back to the nastiness of negotiating a coalition agreement with a medley of small parties, each eager to stake it's claim to a certain piece of turf - politics of the worst kind.

The test that lies in front of Olmert is not winning the election, but proving capable of constucting a coalition with which to lead the country afterwards. The conditions that present themselves provide intriguing possibilities - I'm just hoping that fragile political egos don't prevent the opportunity from being grasped.

Shabbat Shalom,


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