Labor and Livni’s HaTnua presenting a joint list, promising to rotate PM

Israeli politics never ceases to amaze! A union of Labour and Livni’s HaTnua has been widely anticipated, and several polls now have shown this combined list would win more seats than Likud. But a rotation of the premiership if the combined list is in a position to form a government? I never imagined such a deal.

As the article in Times of Israel notes, “There is a precedent for prime ministerial rotation in Israel. Labor’s Shimon Peres and Likud’s Yitzhak Shamir led the country in that format between 1984 and 1988.” But note the difference: that was two parties–still the two big ones back then–agreeing to take turns. This deal is that one party (or, here, alliance) will swap the leader it has supplied to head the government at the midterm, and it means a far weaker partner supplying the PM for half the term. Quite unusual.

Regarding list formation:

Herzog is understood to have agreed to place Livni in the second place on the joint party list, as well as giving Hatnua the 6th, 21st and 25th slots on the joint list. The 6th slot was earmarked for former environment minister [and once Labor Party leader] Amir Peretz.

Those same polls still suggest the right would be more likely to form the government. (So far, Likud is probably losing votes to Bennet’s nationalist-Orthodox party, not to the center or left.) Is this a game changer that would attract enough votes off some of the right-wing parties? I would not count on it, but that’s obviously the intent.

13 thoughts on “Labor and Livni’s HaTnua presenting a joint list, promising to rotate PM

  1. One Ha’aretz columnist thinks it’s a bad idea:

    Anshel Pfeffer, “How Herzog ruined his chances of becoming the next PM: Rotation deal with Livni ruins the Labor head’s chances of winning the election.” Ha’aretz (11 December 2014)

  2. A different Ha’aretz article cited the polling data which helped them form their decision, which suggested that they’d have more seats together than separately, especially with rotation – male and particularly female voters were more motivated to voted for the alliance with rotation than with either leader as exclusive PM candidate. Maybe there’s something to Green parties’ dual (1 male, 1 female) after all?

  3. I have seen a few Haaretz columns similar to Pfeffer’s. I don’t buy it, for the reasons JD indicates. The polls say these two get more seats together than separately. Whether that will hold up till election day, and whether the Labor-led list would be able to form a government after the election, are separate questions. (I am a bit skeptical on both counts.)

    It is not as if Labor had any realistic chance of supplying the next PM running alone. In other words, contra Pfeffer, I would say Herzog had no chances to ruin.

  4. A fascinating piece here: Eight reasons why the centre-left could form Israel’s next government.

    “But can ‘The Zionist Camp’ – the working title of the new alliance – not only emerge the largest party but actually form a coalition government?

    They have got the framing right this time – Zionism vs extremism. . . Livni and Herzog are framing this election as a fight over the future of the State of Israel, and themselves as heirs to the liberal and democratic traditions of the Zionist founders.

    Their rhetoric places this against an extremist /nationalist/sectarian camp which is contrary to those values. This time, as Ari Shavit, a commentator in the left-wing Haaretz put it: “Neither Netanyahu nor peace is the crucial issue. What’s at stake is the existence of a sovereign, modern and democratic homeland, of which we can be proud and in which we can live.””


    • The alliance has apparently adopted that name, or at least slogan “Mahane Tziyoni” or “Zionist Camp”). I do like the framing. I remain skeptical that they can form a coalition, unless Yisrael Beiteinu breaks with Likud (which it already did–sort of) and Moshe Kahlon’s new Kulanu party does well enough and also joins Herzog and Livni.

      I would note that Yisrael Beiteinu is often characterized as fairly right wing, but that is not entirely accurate. It is very much in favor of civil-marriage and easier conversion legislation (because so many of its XSSR constituents are not recognized as Jewish by the state-sanctioned rabbinate). While YB leader, Avigdor Lieberman, himself lives in a “settlement”, not that many of his constituents do.

      Both Kahlon and Lieberman prefer territorial compromise over annexation, as favored openly by Jewish Home and some prominent figures within the Likud.

    • The Times of Israel is quite delusional if it thinks a 24-21-21 split between the three main camps means that one of them has dominated an election.

      The swing would represent a 1-seat shift from Zionist Camp (I assume that is what the article was referring to when it said Labor) to the Mashiachim (Kahlon and Lapid). I suppose it might change who the parties recommend as PM to President Rivlin, but it’s also quite possible that it wouldn’t matter either way–I think it’s quite possible that a “left of Bibi” (not really left of center) coalition would need to nominate someone more to the right to get Lieberman on board, and that Kahlon could be nominated as PM even without winning more votes than the Zionist Camp.

      I also think that the entire “government resigning for a new PM midterm” is a terrible idea, and that Tzipi Livni of all people should know why that is.

      However, to me the biggest development is the Deri/Yishai split within Shas, because it now makes it look highly unlikely that the entire Haredi block would join a government (and it also looks like the split parties will take fewer seats than Shas would together).

      • “Zionist Camp” is the newly chosen name for the Labor-HaTnua (and Kadima) alliance, so indeed one should not refer to “Labor” in this election as if it were running separately. And, yes, the use of “dominated” there in the ToI was silly. Israeli law does not even mandate that the head of the largest list gets the first chance to try to form a government, let alone ensure that list dominance of anything.

  5. I came here looking for the thread on the coming election in Israel. Where is it? The history-making Joint List of the “Arab” parties (Arab + Dov Khenin) will apparently hold the balance of power and may block Netanyahu, making it effectively an external supporter of the next government. Hello?

  6. Pingback: Four days to election, Likud still looks hard to beat | Fruits and Votes

  7. Pingback: Campaign effects vs. ‘fundamentals’–Israel 2015 edition | Fruits and Votes

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.