Those who still haven’t heard it, failed to understand it, or still find it difficult to believe it, should be told the following: The elections are here already.
If there was still any doubt about it Sunday morning, and perhaps even hope that the political establishment will regain its senses and perform a national cost-benefit analysis, by evening time it was already clear. Livni’s appearance at the newscasts of the three major television channels, in an attempt to turn the failure to form a government into a political campaign, made it clear that she is going for elections. Moreover, she certainly intends to give it a good fight.
However, Livni is not the only one: If only our politicians were quick in other areas the way they rush into battle when the scent of elections is in the air, perhaps this country would look differently. Even before Livni arrived at the Presidential Residence to inform Peres of her failure, other parties already closed ranks, media messages were pulled out, and every party was quick to radicalize its positions and address potential voters.
And so, Jerusalem’s unity became the central reason for Shas’ refusal to join the government, Likud pointed to Livni’s failure to form a government as evidence that she cannot lead a country, and Labor noted that it behaved responsibly and gave Livni a chance to form a coalition, but she squandered it.
And what about Livni? Well, this is an easy one: She did not fail in forming a government, but rather, she chose not to form it because she was unwilling to capitulate in the face of extortion.
What kind of public impression has been left by Livni after more than a month of failed negotiations? Or perhaps the decision to go to elections and not give Shas more money would leave their mark on the Israeli public? And what is Labor’s situation in the wake of its grotesque agreement with Kadima? Where does Netanyahu stand, after making stately pretenses, but being in cahoots with Shas’ Eli Yishai while doing so? And what is Shas’ position among potential voters after rejecting Livni’s offer and gambling on child allowances?
A poll conducted by the Dahaf Institute, headed by Mina Tzemach, on behalf of Yedioth Ahronoth Sunday showed that had elections been held today, Kadima would win with 29 Knesset seats, followed by Likud with 26. Meanwhile, Labor and Shas would win only 11 seats each. The dead-heat between Livni and Netanyahu leads us to conclude that the battle for forming the government following the elections will pit the two large blocs against each other – the rightist bloc headed by Netanyahu, and the leftist bloc headed by Livni.
Should the person tasked with forming the next government – Livni or Netanyahu – decide to establish a national unity government, Shas could end up finding itself with little influence and even smaller child allowances.