Israeli politics is a multy-party system, but there always have been and always will be "the big parties". These are the parties that always get elected with the most votes, and the parties that always issue a prime minister contender. Until 2005 there was "Likud" ("Unity") and "Avoda" ("Labor"). These two major parties would be considered the center, while Likud is center-right and Avoda center-left (this sentence is representative of the Israeli consensus and is highly debatable).
By 2005 members of both parties left, and came together to form "Kadima" ("forward"), a center-center party (yes this is where it gets ridiculous). The existence of Kadima has definitely shrunk the differences between the three big parties, in the eyes of the Israeli public. Nevertheless, most Israeli’s dilemma is still which is better, Netanyahu (Likud), Barak (Avoda), or Livny (Kadima)?
The Bad News
A recent article from Ha’aretz, however, shows a shift in trend that scares the shit out of me:
"The poll shows that Yisrael Beiteinu, led by Avigdor Lieberman, has overtaken Labor and now has 15 Knesset seats compared to Labor’s 14."
Essentially what this means is that Israel’s "center-left" has been exchanged for extremist right-wing nationalism and fascism (not to mention racism). Lieberman is the man that in 2004 proposed:
"…populations and territories of Israeli Jews and Arabs… would be "separated"… Israeli Arab town adjacent to Palestinian Authority areas would be transferred to Palestinian Authority, and only those Arabs who felt a connection with the State of Israel and were loyal to it would be allowed to remain."
Here’s his latest election campaign:
The Good News
The leftovers of Israel’s democracy are truly fragile, as the case of the banning and reinstating of the Arab parties in the election council proves. It seems that the last watchdog of this democracy is the supreme court. However, the progressive left party, "Hadash" ("New") seems to be on the tail of "Meretz" ("vigor")- the so-called "left of Israel". This election, it’s said that Hadash are seriously biting into Meretz’s pie, at the youth front.
This won’t change the general results of the elections. It won’t even-out the frightening move to the right. But the fact is that in a democracy, opposition is inherently smaller than the ruling party. It’s worth noting that Hadash has signed a D’Hondt Agreement with the Arab parties. This means that any of Hadash’s superfluous votes will be passed on to Balad and Raa’am-Ta’al.
For a laugh (or cry), here’s Ra’am Ta’al’s counter-Lieberman election campaign. It’s the best satire I’ve seen in Israel for a long time (the so-called satire programs, here, tend to pinch instead of punch):