Israeli election expected, then called off

The Israeli Knesset was poised to dissolve itself, and set new elections for September 4. Then came this surprise:

Netanyahu, Mofaz agree to form unity government.

The elections are off. Some things you just don’t see coming. That’s what keeps political science, and political blogging, interesting.

What Mofaz saw coming was the collapse of Kadima support, and the complete absence of any bounce from his becoming party leader and an unlikely head of the center-left bloc. It is less clear what Netanyahu’s motives are, as the polls showed a large increase in Likud seats from an early election, and a dominant position in subsequent coalition-building.

There is a mention of an agreement to pursue changes to the electoral system, but it is not clear of what sort.

7 thoughts on “Israeli election expected, then called off

  1. Do we have any idea what sort of changes could be in the works? I know that there has been talk before of further increasing the threshold, but I just don’t see how a 4 or 5% threshold could do anything but further destabilize the already notoriously unpredictable party system. Could they perhaps mean the even more radical idea of moving to a districted system or maybe even flexible lists?

    • All of those ideas have been floated, but I suspect what is most likely to be put forth now is an increase in the votes needed to dismiss a government. In other words, not electoral reform, but an executive-legislative reform that would increase the separation of survival. I don’t think we really know what the consequences would be, but I don’t expect that they would be good consequences.

  2. Why dont they move to more straightforward presidentialism, or did the experience of directly electing the PM sour the Israelis completely on the concept? It would surely be more coherent than redefining legislative majorities up.

  3. Far too conservative, if the bonus is to ensure majority government than it must be equal to at least half the assembly, otherwise there is the frightful danger of a minority government.

  4. “… In advance of two out of three recent elections (ie, in 1996 and 2001 ) in which each Israeli had the opportunity to vote separately for a prime ministerial candidate, petitions were submitted to the High Court of Justice demanding that blank votes be counted, as their volume could have had an influence in the case of a second round of voting for the PM….”

    – Michael Handelzalts, “Drawing a blank: Messrs Mofaz and Netanyahu announced this week that their newly forged union intends to change the system of government. Here is my humble contribution to that mission,” Haaretz (11 May 2012)

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