September Madness 2019: Guide to the Parties
September Madness 2019 is still open! You can enter this prediction contest up until 11:59 pm Israel Summer Time (4:59 pm EDT) on Monday, September 16, 2019 (the night before the election). Once again, here is a guide to the 31 parties running in this election (down from 32 when we got started – Zehut has dropped out after making a deal with Likud). And here are the full lists of candidates in Hebrew (official) and English (unofficial).
Parties represented in the current Knesset:
- Blue and White: This list (composed of two new parties and one existing party) was formed for the April 2019 election as an anyone-but-Bibi big tent, and was successful in that election, winning 35 seats (same as the Likud). They’re hoping to replicate that success by running the same list of candidates again, with Benny Gantz (of Hosen L’Yisrael) at the top, followed by Yair Lapid (of Yesh Atid) and Moshe Ya’alon (of Telem).
- Democratic Camp: Meretz (now led by Nitzan Horowitz, who defeated Tamar Zandberg in the leadership primary this summer) is hoping to build a larger faction on the left by joining forces with the Green Movement (led by Stav Shaffir, who recently left the Labor party) and the Israel Democratic Party (a new party led by former prime minister Ehud Barak).
- Joint List: This union of 3 Arab parties from across the spectrum (Balad, Ta’al, and the United Arab List) and one left-wing Arab-Jewish party (Hadash) was created for the 2015 election, but then split into two lists for the April 2019 election, and has now reunited. Once again, it is led by Ayman Odeh of Hadash.
- Labor / Gesher: After dropping to a record-low 6 seats in the April 2019 election, the Labor party has brought back former leader Amir Peretz, and joined with the Gesher party (led by Orly Levy), which failed to reach the threshold in the April election.
- Likud: Incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is trying again, after tying Blue and White for the largest number of seats in the April election, but failing to form a governing coalition (leading to this do-over election). This time, they have also reabsorbed Kulanu, the party that was headed by Moshe Kahlon (now #5 on the Likud list).
- Shas: No drama this time – the Sephardi haredi party is running again with the same list, headed by Aryeh Deri.
- United Torah Judaism: No drama here either – this union of the two main Ashkenazi haredi parties is also running the same list again, headed by Yaakov Litzman.
- Yaminah: The Union of Right-Wing Parties (then composed of the Jewish Home, Tekumah, and Otzmah L’Yisrael) was elected to the Knesset in the April election, and the New Right failed to meet the threshold. So now they have combined (except for Otzmah L’Yisrael), with Ayelet Shaked (of the New Right) at the top of the list.
- Yisrael Beiteinu: This secular right-wing party, led by Avigdor Lieberman, had a key role in bringing about this election, by not joining the Netanyahu coalition. They’re running again with the same list, and may hope to be similarly influential in the next round of coalition negotiations.
Parties not represented in the current Knesset:
- Adom Lavan: Their full tagline on the ballot calls for legalization of cannabis and equality for Ethiopians, Arabs, and the disadvantaged. As such, the names on the party list include a mix of Amharic, Arabic, and Hebrew.
- Bible Bloc Party: A party made up of Christians, Jews, and Messianic Jews.
- Christian Liberal Movement: (aka Ihud B’nei HaB’rit) A mostly Arab Christian party that calls for a two-state solution.
- Democratura: A self-described socialist Zionist party that calls for a new constitution to replace the vestiges of Ottoman law, British law, etc.
- Green Economy, One State (Da’am): An Arab-Jewish socialist party that calls for a “Green New Deal” and a one-state solution
- HaAchdut HaAmamit: A new Arab party founded as an alternative to the Joint List (and like many breakaway parties, its name means “national unity”).
- HaYamin HaHiloni: The “Secular Right”, founded by Tiberias mayor Ron Cobi (and accused by Yisrael Beiteinu of being a Likud plot to siphon votes away from Yisrael Beiteinu).
- KaMaH: The name is an acronym for “Advancement of the status of the individual”, and they emphasize criminal justice reform.
- Kavod v’Shivyon: An Arab party that calls for equal rights for all citizens.
- Kevod HaAdam: They ran in April, and we still can’t find much information about this party, whose name means “human dignity”. A number of the names on the candidate list sound Russian.
- Kol Yisrael Achim: An Ethiopian-Israeli party calling for equality.
- Manhigut Hevratit: Last time, we wrote “This party has the distinction of finishing in last place in the 2015 election, as well as the 2013 election (under the name ‘Moreshet Avot’). They hope to break the streak this time.” And indeed they did, finishing 5th to last!
- Mitkademet: They are campaigning to the Russian-Israeli community as a progressive alternative to Yisrael Beiteinu.
- Noam: A new Religious Zionist party that has been in the news for its anti-LGBT messaging.
- Otzmah Kalkalit: They claim to represent small businesses.
- Otzmah Yehudit: This Kahanist party was part of the Union of Right-Wing Parties last time, but is on their own this time. Some of their candidates were banned from the election, but the party itself was not.
- Pirates: As part of the international network of Pirate Parties, they may hope to be buoyed by the timing of the election so close to International Talk Like A Pirate Day.
- Seder Hadash: Their main issue is to change the election system, to have Knesset members elected by geographic districts.
- Tzafon: A regional party focused on issues facing the North.
- Tzedek: Founded by activist Avi Yalou, who has been in the news protesting racism against Ethiopian Israelis.
- Tzomet: This previously dormant party was brought back to life in the April election, and is now running again, emphasizing agriculture and rural interests.
- Zechuyoteinu B’Koleinu: They also ran in April, emphasizing the working conditions of law-enforcement officers.
Good luck to everyone making predictions!!!!