Phase 2 Prediction Analysis
Yesterday I focused on Phase 1.
Two days ago I posted the Knesset Jeremy Model Prediction for 2015.
Zionist Union 25
The Joint (Arab) List 12
Yesh Atid 12
Bayit Yehudi 12
Yisrael Beitenu 5
I listed the two most likely scenarios for Phase 2:
Possible Netanyahu Phase 2: Likud (22), Bayit Yehudi (12), Kulanu (9), Shas (7), UTJ (7), Yisrael Beitenu (5), Yachad (4) =66
Possible Herzog Phase 2: Zionist Union (25), The Joint (Arab) List (12), Yesh Atid (12), Kulanu (9), Meretz (5) =63
Timeline between Phase 1 and 2, and exactly how Phase 2 works:
Tomorrow at 10 PM Israel time the voting will end and election polls will be closed. Those who enter the polling station before 10 PM will still be allowed to vote. Each of the 10,119 polling stations across 3,200 sites will have a committee of three people, representing three different parties and those three people will tally the votes by hand. The party representatives will text the results to their headquarters so that the Party Leaders know the results before the television journalists. The official results will be entered into the computer and published on the Central Elections Committee website http://bechirot.gov.il/ as the night goes on.
The focus will be on the exit polls until the middle of the night when a good percentage of the vote will have been counted. By the morning we should have most of the votes in and the Phase 1 results should be rather clear. The “double-envelope” votes will not be included in these initial results. These are votes by citizens who voted overseas or in Israeli army bases, specialized handicap stations, hospitals, jails or polling station committee members. These votes will be counted afterwards in the Knesset itself. Expect a slight shift of a seat-or-two in the final Phase 1 results after the double-envelope votes are counted.
Phase 2: The newly elected Knesset will be sworn in on March 31st. We will not have a government, but we should know who will get the first crack at putting together a government by that date. President Rivlin is expected to meet with the Knesset factions in an official capacity on March 24th, but he is most likely going to already start working unofficial channels after the election results are clear.
The law for some reason does not take the size of a party into account. The law requires President Rivlin to sit with all of the newly elected lists before making a decision on who should get the first crack at forming a new government. President Rivlin is looking to pressure all of the parties to make a decision, but most likely he will not need to. The last time someone didn’t receive a majority of votes in Phase 2 or the first person to receive that nod was not able to form a government was back in the 1980s. Historically, the issue that forced national unity governments was that the two largest parties had too many seats and it was impossible to form a coalition with the few small parties that passed the threshold in lower single-digits. This all changed with the rise of the middle-sized “kingmaker” parties. The unofficial negotiations that are conducted between Phase 1 and Phase 2 have always enabled one of the Prime Minister candidates to reach enough support to get the first crack.
Bottom line my prediction is that it will not be in President Rivlin’s hands. Someone is going to get a majority. The President has also made it clear that he will do everything in his power to force the parties to make a choice and not drag it out.
The parties visit the President in order of party size. Zionist Union will nominate Herzog. Likud will nominate Netanyahu. The Joint List party head who is from Hadash will nominate Herzog but the leaders of Ra’am and Balad will warn President Rivlin that their list head is not speaking for all of the parties on the list. By law Rivlin will count The Joint List’s votes but will take Ra’am and Balad into account to determine “who has the best chance at forming a coalition” in the event no one gets 61 seats. Yesh Atid will nominate Herzog. Bayit Yehudi will nominate Netanyahu. I predict this is where Rivlin will call it a day for the first day of deliberations.
I expect President Rivlin to start Day 2 of Phase 2 with Kahlon. Kahlon can go either way, but my feeling is that because Trajtenberg and Lapid are above him on the Finance Ministry Portfolio list that Kahlon goes with Netanyahu who had already offered him that position. I could be wrong here but it just seems like Herzog will have a tough job giving Kahlon a competitive offer compared to Netanyahu. I expect both UTJ and Shas to nominate Netanyahu again in return for Haredi funding and the sorts. It is possible that one of the parties in UTJ will not be happy with the Phase 2 decision to nominate Netanyahu.
Liberman might nominate himself to get out of Rivlin’s pressure tactics. He is capable of doing this, but most likely it is an empty threat to milk a better deal out of Netanyahu. Yisrael Beitenu showed their right-wing colors at the right’s rally yesterday and Liberman’s top campaign promises include killing jailed terrorists. This is not exactly the type of thing that you see from a candidate that is angling for a Herzog government invitation. Liberman prefers a national-unity-government but will most likely go for Netanyahu when he sees it is unlikely to happen. Meretz will endorse Herzog and Yachad will endorse Netanyahu. I expect Rivlin to officially give Netanyahu the first crack at a new coalition next weekend.
Netanyahu is going to have problems forming coalition agreements with six additional parties and the people are going to question the legitimacy of a government where the largest party once again does not rule the country. That is our system. It is possible Netanyahu doesn’t reach Phase 3 and that Herzog gets a nod to be the second person to try Phase 2, although I doubt it. It is because of this scenario (and others), that I am going to hold off on my Phase 3 predictions until after the official election results. Of course if Herzog scores the Kahlon nominating some how, he will get the first crack at forming a government.
I want to thank Five Thirty Eight for their interview with me that was released today, to the Huffington Post for using my model as their basis, the many publications that have been linking and crediting my site including the Washington Post and Jerusalem Post. I have started to commit to media appearances tomorrow and others who are interested know how to get in touch.
To all of my loyal readers in Israel – Please exercise your democratic right and vote!