A tale of two elections

Dr. Norman Bailey

Both elections will seriously affect the future trajectory of Israel and the US, as well as their relations with each other.

On November 1st Israelis went to the polls and one week later, Americans did the same in the midterm elections. Both elections proved to be very significant, and both will seriously affect the future trajectory of Israel and the US, as well as their relations with each other.

Ordinarily, I would have been able to write this column much earlier, but the American results have only recently become definitive, and the final outcome of the Israeli election is still uncertain.

In the Israeli case, the triumph of the rightist coalition headed by Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu, given the fact that the popular vote was almost exactly a tie between the contending factions, was due to the fact that Netanyahu effectively manipulated the highly-flawed Israeli electoral system and Yair Lapid did not. Netanyahu forced Itamar Ben-Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich to run together, although they didn't want to, whereas Lapid was not able to do the same with the heads of Labor and Meretz. If he had, as Meretz did not pass the minimum entry threshold, the two coalitions would have been deadlocked and yet another election would have been rendered necessary.

Nevertheless, Netanyahu has been having a difficult time putting together a government, due not only to the demands for important ministerial posts on the part of Ben-Gvir, Smotrich and Aryeh Deri, but also the growing dissatisfaction among the Likudniks at their being frozen out of positions that they feel entitled to because, after all, Likud is by far the largest party in the Knesset. If Netanyahu succeeds in forming a government, which he probably will, he will have to govern constantly looking over his shoulder, and the result may be that the government will not last long.

In the US, the election results were very interesting, indeed. To remind our readers, in the midterm elections, held in the middle of the presidential term of four years, the entire House of Representatives, one-third of the Senate and many state and local officials stand for election or reelection.

In the first place, all of the three Ps - the pundits, the press and the polls, were completely wrong. They almost unanimously predicted a landslide for the Republicans and no such landslide took place. In fact, the Democrats maintained their control of the Senate, lost the House of Representatives by a much smaller margin than is usual in midterm elections and generally did well at the state and local level, with some exceptions.

Secondly, taking the electoral process as a whole, including the primary elections to pick party candidates, the moderates of both parties managed to gain strength against the extremists on both sides. This bodes well for the future of US democracy.

Finally, the one Republican who did extremely well was the Governor of Florida, Ron de Santis, who was reelected by a huge majority. This is significant, because de Santis is almost sure to run against Donald Trump for the Republican nomination in 2024, and the two extreme rightists might cancel each other and make way for the nomination of a moderate, such as Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin.

Whatever happens, the next two years should be very exciting for the aficionados of politics, and equally significant for the future of both countries separately and in relation to each other.

Dr. Norman Bailey is professor of Economic Statecraft at the Galilee International Management Institute, and adjunct professor at the Institute of World Politics, Washington DC. Dr. Bailey was a senior staff member of the National Security Council during the Reagan administration and of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence during the George W. Bush administration. 

Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on November 28, 2022.

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd., 2022.

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