For pretty much the whole election campaign supporters of the Right have been under the impression that they were going to win the election with a huge margin. It is possible that this attitude along with the lurch to the hard Right of Likud and the rise of Naftali Bennett and his Jewish Home party were enough to scare voters all over Israel to the ballot boxes out of fear of their policies.
The big surprise of the night has been Yair Lapid with an estimated 19 seats putting him right in the political centre and arguably giving him the most leverage in the horse trading that is to come, he can work with Likud and he can work with Livni and he can work with Labour he is his own man and is already being courted by Netanyahu for a position in the next government.
Netanyahu is now in an incredibly weak position, his own party faithful are likely to be livid with him for leading them to a massive fall in the number of Members of Knesset that they can draw upon for the next four years. Israel Beiteinu already announced that the two parties were going to separate after the general election and now nothing is certain.
After the internal strife wrought upon the Labour party (who I voted for) by Barak it’s a miracle that they’ve been able to dust themselves off enough to pick up their predicted 17 seats. Although their leader Shelly Yachimovich has already announced that she won’t join any government led by Likud in the horsetrading of Israeli politics it’s entirely possible that we will find her in one nevertheless. As I am writing this I am listening to her promise to block efforts by Bibi to form any kind of government, if she is successful or at least if all parties to the left of Likud refuse to join him in a government Bibi will be forced to form a government so religious and so far to the Right that it will likely collapse under it’s own weight within months. It was only Barak’s decision four years ago to join Bibi that ensured his government lasted the distance. I doubt that he will find someone to provide him the same degree of unflinching support as his former military commander.
The situation will become clearer over the next couple of days, I am pleased to see the extent to which the belief that Israel has shifted to the Right are untrue and hope that a more representative government will end up in power.