Another diversion from Gaza: Israel has an election coming up in 5 weeks (though some would say this is the reason we’re in Gaza), and the preliminary candidate lists have been posted to the Knesset website. (Warning: Hebrew only. I presume that, as in previous elections, the lists will be posted in English (and Arabic and Russian) after they are finalized.) The final lists will be released on January 16.
After the final lists are up, you’ll get a chance to make predictions about the election results and enter the February Madness pool (in the style of our March Madness pool from 2006).
Some observations from looking at the lists:

  • There are 34 parties running this year (even more than the 31 in the last election), including all the parties currently represented in the Knesset, some perennial also-rans (Aleh Yarok / Green Leaf, Men’s Rights, etc.), and some brand-new ones.
  • Despite the party-based Israeli election system, the Israeli parties are clearly taking a page from American personality-based politics. Four of the largest parties are listing themselves on the ballot (where it typically just has the name of the party) as “The Likud – Ahi – with the leadership of Binyamin Netanyahu for prime minister”, “Labor – headed by Ehud Barak”, “Yisrael Beiteinu headed by Avigdor Lieberman”, and “Kadima – with Tzipi Livni for prime minister”. (And let’s not forget Netanyahu’s website.)
  • It’s always fun to look at the “honorary” slots at the bottom of the lists. For example, Meretz has writers A.B. Yehoshua and Amos Oz as #114 and 115, and Labor has former president Yitzhak Navon at #120.
  • Can someone explain the difference between the new Green Movement (which has joined forces with Meimad) and the preexisting Green party?
  • “Aleh Yarok alumni with Holocaust survivors”? What?
  • Looks like the attempted merger between the National Religious Party and the National Union (which ran as a joint list in 2006) has completely fallen apart. It seems that the secular presence in the far-right/pro-settlement camp had more life left in it than anyone thought.
  • Time to do some research on some of these new parties, including “Strong Israel headed by Dr. Ephraim Sneh”, “The Israelis”, “The voice of money – for the destruction of bank control” (is this the old Party for the Struggle with the Banks, renamed?), “Revolution in education”, and “Tzabar – Israel’s young people’s party”.
  • After splitting into a few factions leading into the 2006 election, it looks like Shinui no longer exists in any form (though I wonder if some of these other wild-card parties involve any of the same people; I haven’t looked closely enough yet).

What else? Post your own observations.