Rassegna Stampa Elezioni Israeliane 2009

Monitoraggio attraverso i media internazionali delle elezioni in Israele del Febbraio 2009

Q&A: Israeli elections

Posted by gaetanoditommaso su 7 febbraio, 2009


07 February 2009

Israel is to hold general elections on 10 February, with polls suggesting centre-right opposition Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu is best placed to become the next prime minister.

Why were the elections called?

The road to elections began when outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert announced he would resign in the face of multiple corruption investigations. Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni won primary elections for the leadership of Mr Olmert’s centrist Kadima party in September 2008.

She then had the opportunity to form a governing coalition and become the next prime minister. But she failed to reach agreement to keep the religious party Shas in the government and opted instead to go to fresh elections.

Mr Olmert has remained caretaker prime minister during the process to replace him, even as the attorney general has said he is considering charging him over accusations that he double-billed government agencies for trips abroad.

Who are the main candidates?

Ms Livni and Mr Netanyahu. Other players are Ehud Barak, who is a former prime minister, the current defence minister and leader of centre-left Labour Party, and Avigdor Lieberman, the leader of the far-right party Yisrael Beiteinu.

When Mr Olmert announced he would step down, most polls showed Mr Netanyahu comfortably ahead of Ms Livni. She narrowed the gap slightly in the following months, but lost ground again after the Israeli military operation in Gaza. Popular with Israelis, the military action swung voter concerns away from Ms Livni’s agenda of clean leadership and peace talks, and back to security, boosting Mr Netanyahu, Mr Barak and Mr Lieberman.

In the final polls, published four days before the election, Mr Netanyahu’s lead over Ms Livni had narrowed to two or three seats, while Mr Lieberman looked set to beat Mr Barak into third place.

Polling organisations warned that unusually large numbers of Israelis, estimated at 15-20%, said they remained undecided, which could make the result difficult to predict.

What do Kadima and Likud stand for?

Kadima describes itself as centrist. It backs peace talks aimed at achieving a two-state solution, and has held indirect talks with Syria over the return of the Golan Heights. But it has also presided over two wars in its three years in power – the 2006 Lebanon war, and the recent operation against Hamas in Gaza.

Likud stands further right. It has been critical of the Kadima-led peace talks with the Palestinians and stresses the need for economic development for the Palestinians before a meaningful deal can be reached. Likud maintains the Kadima-Labour alliance halted the Gaza offensive too early, and opposes any withdrawal from the Golan Heights or division of Jerusalem.

Since Kadima was formed in 2005 out of a split in Likud, the two have been battling for Israel’s political centre ground. Kadima was formed by the then Likud Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, after many members of Likud refused to support his policy of withdrawing troops and settlers from the Gaza Strip and parts of the West Bank.

The disengagement agenda has since lost its popularity. Mr Sharon is in a coma after suffering a massive stroke, and the growth of the militant group Hamas in Gaza led many Israelis to doubt the wisdom of the withdrawal.

How does the electoral process work?

Israel has a system of proportional representation, where voters choose to back a party, rather than an individual. The 120 seats in the Israeli parliament, known as the Knesset, are allocated in proportion to the number of votes each party receives. Candidates are allocated seats according to the order in which they appear on the their party’s list. The head of the list is often the leader of the party and seen as the party’s candidate for prime minister.

All Israelis over 18 – some 5.3m people – are eligible to vote at 9,263 polling stations.

Thirty-four parties are standing, but a party must gain at least 2% of the vote to gain a seat.

How will a government be formed?

Israel’s electoral system has always resulted in coalition governments, with no party ever winning the 61 seats required for a straight majority.

The leader of the party that wins the most seats is offered the opportunity to form a coalition. This often involves deals over the interests of smaller parties. Shas, for example, has been in virtually every coalition in the past two decades, winning considerable gains on issues important to its orthodox Jewish supporters – such as child benefits – in exchange for supporting successive governments.

Polls currently predict that the right-wing bloc, including Mr Netanyahu’s Likud party, Yisrael Beiteinu and a number of smaller religious and nationalist parties, will comfortably gain 60 seats.

Analysts also say Mr Netanyahu may consider including Labour within his coalition, which would give him the option of keeping Mr Barak, a much decorated former military Chief of Staff, in his current post of defence minister, and being less beholden to parties further to the right. Furthermore, a Likud-Kadima alliance cannot be ruled out, although Kadima aides have indicated the party does not want to be part of a Likud-Shas-Yisrael Beiteinu coalition.

What is the likely impact on the peace process?

Whoever is elected will have to balance right-leaning voters and – most likely coalition partners – against pressure to push forward with meaningful negotiations from the new US President Barack Obama.

Many other factors which will influence peace negotiations remain uncertain, including the outcome of talks aimed at securing a lasting ceasefire in Gaza and also the standing of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Israel’s negotiating partner.

The PA is embroiled in a long-standing feud with Hamas. The militant group says it no longer recognises Mr Abbas’s authority as his term has expired, and wants the PA to end its talks with Israel.

Even if Israel and the PA could reach a deal, as things stand, Hamas would be strongly opposed to it.

Feb 2001: Ariel Sharon elected prime minister
Aug-Sept 2005: Withdrawal from Gaza and four West Bank settlements, Binyamin Netanyahu resigns as finance minister
Nov 2005: Sharon resigns from Likud and forms Kadima
Dec 2005: Binyamin Netanyahu elected Likud leader
Jan 2006: Sharon suffers major stroke, Ehud Olmert becomes caretaker PM
March 2006: Kadima wins elections and later forms coalition with Labour
July 2006: Israel-Lebanon war breaks out
May 2007: Report criticises Olmert’s handling of war. Calls for resignation.
July 2008: Facing corruption probe, Olmert announces plans to step down
September 2008: Tzipi Livni elected to lead Kadima
October 2008: Livni announces coalition bid failed
Dec 2008: Operation Cast Lead launched on Gaza
Feb 2009: Elections scheduled for 10 Feb



Una Risposta to “Q&A: Israeli elections”

  1. gaetanoditommaso said

    Utile e pratico promemoria sulle elezioni israeliane


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