Friday, January 23, 2015

Israeli Election update; and update on Greece and Newfoundland.

Starting from the smallest updates to the biggest.


All signs point to a victory by the left-wing and anti-austerity SYRIZA party.

My current prediction is as follows:

83 ND
16 XA
14 KKE


The province of Newfoundland and Labrador is set to lose 10 seats in the legislature. After a marathon debate, the house of assembly agreed to the bill to cut the number of seats prior to the next election.

This is a terrible idea for a few reasons.

1 - The listed reason is cost cutting. Reducing the number of MHAs from 48 to 38 is indeed a cut of about 20%, however it also reduces the number of democratically elected province-wide officials by 20%. Rather than cutting democracy by 20%, if the MHAs were serious about cost savings, they could have simply cut all their budgets, from wages to staffing, by 20% and achieved the same result without the cut in democratic choice.

2 - They plan to rush the new boundaries. The commission will have between 120 and 90 days to finish it's work, depending on which news article you read. They can extend it by 10 days, but this is a short time frame no matter how you look at it. In addition, they plan to have this done 2 months before the election, which means a very short time frame for not only voters to figure out what riding they are in, but for candidates to decide to run and get nominated.

3 - Perhaps most importantly, this opens up the process to Gerrymandering.

4 - Politically, this is a stupid move by the PC Party. The more smaller ridings you have the more seats the "losing party" can realistically win. With only 38, 34 on the Island, it becomes more likely the Liberals could sweep every riding.


There are a number of stories developing.

A - Polls have shown the lead of the two main parties; Likud and Labour-Livni, is growing beyond the others. Where a few weeks ago they were averaging 23-24 seats, now they are averaging 25-26 seats, each. With 7 weeks to go before the election there is time for this trend to continue.

B - Shas has rebounded after it's scandal. In addition, the Shas offshoot parties are doing worse in the polls, and I expect none of them will elect a candidate by the time the election day comes.

C -  Parties have mostly finalized their lists. Israel operates on Proportional Representation, and each party prepares a list - usually though internal election of all members - of which candidates and in which order it is presenting to the electorate. If a party wins 10 seats, it's first 10 listed candidates get those seats. The law requires all lists to be finished at around this time, and as such, the lists are being prepared and finished.

D - Yisrael Beitenu keeps falling in the polls. Hit hard by scandal, the party has fallen from an average of around 9 seats a month ago, to closer to 5 now.

E - Meretz and Jewish Home have both lost about a seat each in polls in the past week or two; these parties are considered more extreme than the more centrist Likud and Labour parties; and it might indicate the beginning of a two horse race in this election.

F - For the first time, all major Israeli-Arab parties have agreed to run on the same list.

It is important to remember that up to 1977, only Labour had formed Israeli governments; time has changed Israeli politics greatly. Until the late 70's Labour ran it's own Arab satellite lists; In fact, it has only been since the late 80's that Arab parties have started to run in Israel, but since then, this is the first time all the pro-Arab parties have run on a single list.

Polls have put the individual parties, combined, at around 11 or 12 seats. The loss of additional seats due to vote splitting could push this up to a solid 12. There are some, however, who expect that the simple union and the offering of a unique choice could push that number up to 14, if not 16.

If the latter comes true, it would almost certainly place the party in 3rd place nationally, and could potentially position the party as a kingmaker in the next government of Israel.


  1. Interesting factoids.
    Served in the 1st Knesset. He was an Israeli Arab and Communist, and was born to a Christian family. He served for 12 terms. In his final term he served with...
    Who was a Cabinet minister. An Arab, he was also Druze. During his last term he served with...
    Who is the outgoing leader of Hadash.

    The Knesset has always had at least 1 Arab member, usually at least 2; but with just these 3 we can cover every one to date.

  2. Reducing the amount of elected local representatives is one of the most tacky populist rhetoric we have in Canada.

    Populists think that too many politicians are a waste of money since they don't see these representatives at work in their riding. Ironically, by reducing the number of these representatives it allows even less interaction by a politician and his or her constituents.

    1. I agree, wholeheartedly. This push by Davis was cynical at best, and wholly unneeded. I was hoping Ball and the Liberals would maybe filibuster it, however I can imagine that may not even work, considering Davis has a strong majority - better to have saved the Labrador seats and gotten in a word edgewise, compared to whatever it was Michael managed to think she was doing.

    2. Vancouver has 600,000 people and 11 members of City Council. Newfoundland has a smaller population and 5 times the representation! Yes the people of Newfoundland and widely dispersed widely geographically but, people still need to ask whether they are getting value for their tax dollars. If Toronto had the representation of Newfoundland there would be 250 city councillors!

    3. It's not so much a matter of losing 10 MHAs as it is losing 10 MHAs with little notice, little time to do it right, and little public consultation.