Rassegna Stampa Elezioni Israeliane 2009

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

Party leaders search for allies to form government after poll leaves rivals without clear path to power

Posted by claudiacampli su 12 febbraio, 2009

Times

Israelis were faced yesterday with the strangest political landscape for years: two factions declaring victory, a former nightclub bouncer holding the keys to power and a disastrous result for the party that has been a leading force for more than half a century.

Faction leaders immediately plunged into a frenzy of closed-door discussions to see who could recruit the strongest and most durable coalition from the plethora of parties, large and small, that made it into the Knesset. Kadima, the centre-right party led by Tzipi Livni, emerged as the surprise winner, capturing 28 of the 120 seats and making her head of the largest group in parliament.

But Binyamin Netanyahu, the hawkish right-wing former Prime Minister, also claimed victory, saying that although his Likud party had 27 seats, the strong showing of the right-wing bloc meant that he should be appointed by President Peres to form the next government.

As predicted, the crucial man for both parties to win to their side is Avigdor Lieberman, the far-right political slugger who surged to third place on a wave of antiArab rhetoric and threats to destroy Hamas in Gaza. The 15 seats for his party, Yisrael Beitenu, has eclipsed the Labour party as a decisive force for the first time, most likely sending a weakened left-wing bloc into opposition.

Labour, which fought a lacklustre campaign, dropped to 13 seats from the 19 it held before the elections. It will have just two seats more in the new Knesset than the ultra-Orthodox Shas party.

Ms Livni, 50, who served as a soldier and a spy in the past, lost no time resting on her electoral laurels and dived straight into coalition talks with Mr Lieberman. Both politicians are former members of Mr Netanyahu’s Likud party. She left to join Kadima, formed by Ariel Sharon more than three years ago; Mr Lieberman went on to found his own nationalist secular party Yisrael Beitenu, rooted in Israel’s large Soviet-immigrant population.

“This is an opportunity for unity that can promote the issues that are important to you as well,” Ms Livni told Mr Lieberman at the end of a meeting. Ms Livni is speaking also with the left-wing Meretz party, which won only three seats.

Meanwhile, Mr Netanyahu was in dialogue with Shas, who have held key positions in Ms Livni’s outgoing Government. While Shas has taken open stands against any division of Jerusalem – a position they share with Likud – their main concern is to secure ministries that will allow them to disburse allowances to their poor, devout constituency, many of whom live on state subsidies so they can devote themselves to religious studies. With 11 seats, Shas is in a good position to set out terms to either side.

Once the initial round of coalition horse trading is over, Mr Peres will consult all parties to sound out who will be best placed to form a government. Traditionally that hon-our falls to the leader of the biggest party, but it can be allotted to the most stable coalition bloc.

Mr Lieberman has said that he would prefer to join a right-wing bloc but the permutations are almost endless. If Mr Netanyahu can woo him over and convince Ms Livni that she will not be able to form a government, she could be offered a senior role in a right-wing coalition including Likud, Kadima and Yisrael Beitenu.

Alternatively, if Ms Livni can win Mr Lieberman’s support and also combine with Labour and one of the smaller parties, she may be able to make a fist of forming a government.

Mr Netanyahu has said that he would prefer a national unity government of all the main parties, including Labour. Its leader, Ehud Barak, has won respect from Israelis for his handling of the recent Gaza war and Mr Netanyahu may want him by his side as he gears up to tackle the main concern of his electoral campaign: a nuclear-armed Iran.

However, Mr Barak was quoted as saying in private that he would lead Labour into opposition before attempting a return to power.

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