Hebrew University Experts Agree that Election will See Right-Leaning Government in Power

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[img_assist|nid=638|title=Bibi Feb 09|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=348|height=232]Hebrew University Experts Agree that Election will See Right-Leaning Government in Power

January 29, 2009  - Although the election to Israel’s Knesset is on Feb. 10, speakers at a pre-election briefing for the media at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem seemed to agree that the outcome is all but certain that the next government of Israel will be a right-leaning one, led by former Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

The Jan. 27 briefing, attended by about 35 representatives of newspapers and electronic media from the around the world, was held under the auspices of the university’s Media Relations Department.

Even though one has to state that “all the options are open,” Hebrew University Political Science Prof. Reuven Hazan drew a graph for the assembled journalists showing how the parties line up left, right and center. According to current polls, it seems clear that the right-leaning camp will obtain a majority of the Knesset’s 120 seats, said Hazan. The only question seems to be how that vote would be divided among the right-wing parties, though the Likud led by Netanyahu occupies by far the leading position among those parties.

Speaking on the influence of security issues on the electorate, and particularly the recent military operation in Gaza, Hazan’s colleague in the university’s Political Science Department, Prof. Menachem Hofnung, said that ever since the Six-Day War of 1967, the security issue has worked to boost the right-wing parties, with exceptions only in 1992 and 1999. Prior to 1967, social and economic issues were of greater influence in determining election outcomes, said Hofnung. Now, he said, “people are looking for leaders with security potential.”

As for the Israeli Arab vote, Dr. Bashir Bashir, a research fellow in the Gilo Center for Citizenship, Democracy and Civic Education at the Hebrew University, said that this election could show a “remarkably low” turnout in that sector due to anger and frustration among Arab voters over the war in Gaza, the exclusion of the Arab parties from any position of influence within the political system, and frustration by the voters with the inability of their elected representatives to bring about any change that would create greater influence.

Speaking of the influential Russian-speaking segment of the population, Dr. Yitzhak Brudny of the Political Science Department said that these voters tend to support the bigger or medium-sized parties. “The Arab intifadas made this electorate consolidate on the right,” said Brudny. The Russian-speaking vote will go heavily towards Yisrael Beitenu headed by Avigdor Liebernan, to the Likud and to other right-wing parties, but not very much of it will benefit Kadima, said Brudny.

Younger Russian-speaking voters tend to favor Likud, while the older ones lean more towards Lieberman, according to Brudny. “The left is not campaigning seriously for the Russian vote,” he said.

Brudny added that he did not think that the current renewed police investigation of Lieberman’s finances would hurt him among his supporters.

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