To those of you who sat up all night like we did, a fraternal tip of the hat. To those of you that didn’t, we don’t blame you. In either case, here are the very latest figures:
According to the updated seat map as of now (9.30 am, Wednesday): Likud gets 30 seats; Yesh Atid 17; Shas 9; Blue and White 8; Labor 7; Yamina 7; United Torah Judaism 7; Yisrael Beytenu 7; Joint List 6; Religious Zionism 6; New Hope 6; Meretz 5; and Ra’am 5.
What does all that mean? In our previous pre-poll newsletter we said that this election had little to do with political ideology but whether you were for Prime Minister or against him.
And we also said that Naftali Bennett and his Yamina Party could be the Kingmakers.
Well, we didn’t do too badly, but on the second it wasn’t so clear.
Let’s analyse a bit. Using our ‘visceral’ metric of pro-Bibi or anti-Bibi blocs, the pro bloc appears to have secured 52 seats, the anti 56. That leaves Yamina with 7 and Ra’am – an Arab Party – with 5. To remind you, the magic number for forming a government is 61 seats (there are 120 seats in the Knesset). So, even if Yamina went into the pro-Bloc (which is not certain given the mercurial qualities of both Bennett and Ayelet Shaked), that still leaves the pro-bloc short (as we can say with a reasonable amount of certainty that Ra’am would find it difficult to join this bloc for a myriad of reasons).
Arguably the arithmetic looks slightly more favourable for the Anti-Bloc, but Yamina – a right-wing party, would find itself in coalition with very strange bed-fellows ideologically. This is less complicated for Ra’am, but taking Yamina out of the equation, that bloc stops short too.
Still with us? Good. Let’s summarise this as follows, what the Israeli electorate did (whose turnout dropped down from 70 to 67% this time around compared to last), was take an already fiendishly complicated Ravensburger puzzle, throw it in the air and say to the political parties “You put it back together again”.
That is no easy task. The result, in short, is as divided as the electorate. Whilst there will be lots of noise in the next few days and possibly weeks ahead, reaching 61 at present look intractable for either bloc.
But, and this is important, there are around 400,000 absentee ballots still to be counted, which is much higher than usual given the Covid pandemic. We should know more about these votes by Friday…
Right now the question on everyone’s lips is “Fifth time lucky?” It is certainly looking this morning like the puzzle might need one more toss to see if the pieces can be put together.