Left, Far-Right and Center: Israeli Parties Strive to Cross ‘Threshold’

Increase in Parties Leaves Many on the Cusp of Minimum Qualification

by Jason Ditz, January 02, 2013

As the vote continues to near in Israel, the surge in the number of parties in the past few weeks has added renewed attention to the “electoral threshold,” the minimum under which a party cannot gain any seats in parliament.

120 seats to go around, and 8 lists are safely in by all estimates. Everyone else is someone on the periphery, and that covers almost 20 additional parties who are either looking at 2-3 seat wins or missing the threshold and being locked out of the political system until the next election.

The “borderline” parties span the political spectrum in Israel, from Arab parties like Balad, which looks like it likely will make it, to new religious parties, and the ultra-far-right Strong Israel Party. Oh, and Kadima.

Yes, the same Kadima that won the plurality in the 2009 election, wound up as the opposition leader, briefly joined the government then quit, is polling right on the brink, with some pegging them to take home the 2 seat minimum and other picking them to lose outright.

As the election continues to draw near, bigger parties will try to poach votes from the smaller lists, arguing that voting for a list that misses the threshold is a “waste,” while parties trying to drive their numbers up will try anything and everything to get a little bit of extra press before the vote, as in such a fractured election even 2-seat parties could play kingmakers.

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