The poll represents a society that is politically divided. The only slightly surprising outcome was that the media support for Livni was accurately reflected at the ballot box. As a lot of the analysis we read is in English, and as Bibi enjoys a greater level of support within the Anglo speaking community, his popularity seemed to be a notch above the level that Livni enjoyed. However the Hebrew speaking voters of middle Israel see a different quality in Tzipi Livni. She grew out of the right-wing political echelons, and has been branded as the honest broker of Israel’s dishonest political system of trading budgets and compromising ideologies (with a little corruption mixed in for good measure).
Israel runs, to its own detriment, a system that is so democratic, that it can often fail to deliver an outcome. The results from this election will deliver one of two outcomes – a Likud led rightist bloc under Bibi, or a centralist coalition with a rotated premiership between Livni and Bibi. My guess is the former. However itÂ may take some weeks for a leader to emerge with a constitutional majority.Â The system is complex, and ultimately the President exercises discretion as to who is invited first to lead coalition negotiations.Â Although the number of mandates slightly favours Livni, the pragmatic reality is thatÂ BibiÂ is more likely to be able to present the numbers to evidence a coalition Government.
The most unifying aspect of this election seems to be the one ironically championed by the politically spent force of Ehud Barak, whose Israeli arrogance knows no bounds. That is, the Israeli system of proportional representation virtually assures that the balance of power is left with minor parties. Most people would concur that some threshold limit of minimum vote percentages should be a pre-requisite to Knesset representation.
When looking more closely at the numbers, it becomes apparent that the actual number of votes that separate Kadimah from Likud could be as low as 30,000. Hardly a stirring mandate! Obviously the big winners of the campaign are Livni, Leiberman, and Bibi. The big losers are the Labor party, the national religious camp, Shas and Meretz.
The overall move to Israel has been well summed up by journalist Herb Keinon. Israel has moved from the left of centre to the right of centre. But it is not a sharp or pronounced shift. Perhaps enough to preserve peacemaking efforts, but provide greater regard to the security of Israel. No longer will Israel have a Government that trades all of its principles for the illusion of peace. No longer will Israel be prepared to compromise without receiving tangible concessions in return. No longer will terrorists be able to claim victory We can only hope and pray.
From this outcast Diaspora post, we can claim the winner of the election is Israel.Â No matter whether it is Bibi or Livni who is sworn into office, Olmert will depart with a languished legacy, and Israel will again prove (as the lone regional example) that democracy itself ultimately delivers power to the people.