Sunday, April 21, 2019

April Madness results!

Thanks to all who participated in April Madness 2019!

Here are the final election results:
  1. Likud 35
  2. Blue & White 35
  3. Shas 8
  4. United Torah Judaism 8
  5. Hadash-Ta'al 6
  6. Labor 6
  7. Yisrael Beiteinu 5
  8. Union of Right-Wing Parties 5
  9. Meretz 4
  10. Kulanu 4
  11. United Arab List (Ra'am)-Balad 4
  12. New Right
  13. Zehut
  14. Gesher
  15. Betach - Social Security
  16. Arab List
  17. Social Justice
  18. Magen
  19. Justice for All
  20. Tzomet
  21. Yashar
  22. Zechuyoteinu B'Koleinu
  23. Older Citizens' Party
  24. Kol Yisrael Achim / Pe'ulah L'Yisrael
  25. Pirate Party
  26. Pashut Ahavah
  27. Eretz Yisrael Shelanu
  28. Na Nach
  29. Mehatchalah
  30. Hatikvah L'Shinui
  31. Kalkalah Yerukah - Medinah Achat
  32. Education
  33. Achrayut Lameyasdim
  34. Kevod HaAdam
  35. Shavim
  36. Manhigut Hevratit
  37. Ani v'Atah
  38. Mifleget HaGush HaTanachi
  39. Ichud B'nei HaB'rit
  40. B'rit Olam
Even though the broad strokes of the results (the fraction of votes that went to the Likud-led coalition vs. everyone else) look very similar to other recent elections, there were still plenty of surprises at the individual party level.  As a result, everyone had a harder time making predictions, and the top scores this time were noticeably lower than in past prediction pools.  For example, literally no one (who entered April Madness) predicted that the New Right wouldn't make the threshold.  For the tiebreaker question that asked "Of the parties that do NOT win seats in the Knesset, which will come closest?", the overwhelming choice was Gesher, and there were a few votes for Yisrael Beiteinu, Zehut, and Kulanu, but none for the New Right.

All that said, we had two entrants who tied for the winning score, correctly predicting 105 out of 120 Knesset seats: Melanie M in California, and Aaron Weinberg in Washington DC.  Congratulations to both!  What do they have in common?  They were the first two people to complete their contest entries.  Those who had access to more recent poll results did worse.  The earlier polls showed Blue & White riding high, before the pendulum started swinging back to the Likud.  But those early polls were correct - Blue & White did in fact win a lot of seats!  It's just that Likud also won the same number.  Both parties won 35 seats, which is unusually high for the modern era.  The last time any one party won this many seats was in 2003, when the Likud under Ariel Sharon won 38, and the last time before that was Yitzchak Rabin's Labor party in 1992 (44 seats).

So to pick a winner, we'll have to go to the tiebreaker questions.  For the first tiebreaker question ("Of the parties that do NOT win seats in the Knesset, which will come closest?"), both finalists picked Gesher, which means that we'll go to the second tiebreaker: "Which party will get the FEWEST votes?"  Excluding parties that officially dropped out before the election, the "winner" was B'rit Olam (which was also in last place for number of candidates running on their list: only 1).  Honorable mention to Sarah Nemzer Kohl in Jerusalem, who successfully predicted this.  So what did our finalists pick?  Melanie M predicted Education, which finished with 518 votes, and Aaron Weinberg predicted Shavim, which finished with 401 votes.  This means that Aaron Weinberg is our 2019 April Madness champion!  Congratulations!!!

We asked him for a statement, and he said:
I think my only message is that this election makes the dangerous possibility of annexation even more likely and I urge everyone to get involved with any organization or cause that they believe can help prevent that scary possibility from ever becoming reality.

 Thanks again to everyone for playing!  We'll see you again on Tuesday, October 31, 2023, unless by some chance early elections are called (which has been known to happen before).

Tuesday, April 02, 2019

April Madness 2019: Guide to the Parties

It's not too late to enter April Madness 2019!  You have until 11:59 pm Israel Summer Time on Monday April 8, 2019 (the night before the election) to make your predictions.  Once again, here is a guide to the 40 parties that are running (down from 43 when we first launched the contest! Ofek Hadash B'Chavod, Reform, and Yachad have all dropped out!).  And here are the full lists of candidates in Hebrew (official) and in English (unofficial).

Parties represented in the current Knesset:
  • Blue and White: This is a union between the centrist party Yesh Atid (headed by Yair Lapid and serving in the current Knesset) and the two new parties Hosen L'Yisrael (founded by former IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz, who is at the head of the combined list) and Telem (founded by Moshe Ya'alon, also a former IDF chief of staff).
  • Gesher: (Re-)founder Orly Levy was elected to the current Knesset as a member of Yisrael Beiteinu, but she left that party in 2016 and has continued to serve as an independent.  This new party is meant to be a revival of the Gesher party founded by Levy's father David Levy in the '90s, which served in the Knesset in alliances with both Likud and Labor.
  • Hadash/Ta'al: In the 2015 election, 4 Arab and Arab/Jewish parties ran together as the Joint List, and became the third-largest faction in the Knesset.  This time, the Joint List has split into 2 and 2.  This faction includes the left-wing Arab/Jewish party Hadash and the Arab Movement for Renewal (Ta'al), and is led by Ayman Odeh (who led the Joint List).
  • Kulanu: This party ran for the first time in 2015, with a focus on economic issues, and now serves in the coalition, with party leader Moshe Kahlon as Minister of Finance.
  • Labor: In the current Knesset, Labor is part of the Zionist Union (which includes Labor and Hatenuah).  Now, that union has fallen apart, and Hatenuah leader Tzipi Livni is retiring from politics, so now Labor is on its own, and led by relative newcomer Avi Gabbay (who leads the party from outside the Knesset).
  • Likud: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is trying to be elected to a record fifth term, while fending off indictments.
  • Meretz: The left-wing Zionist party is led for the first time by Tamar Zandberg, representing a new generation.
  • New Right: Led by Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked, this faction recently broke off from the Jewish Home, seeking to be a right-wing party that can appeal to both religious and secular voters.
  • Shas: The Sephardi haredi party lost ground in the 2015 election, when it splintered into two factions (Shas, led by Aryeh Deri, and Yachad, led by Eli Yishai), and Yachad failed to meet the election threshold. Yachad just dropped out (in the last week) and endorsed United Torah Judaism.
  • Tzomet: Founder Oren Hazan currently serves in the Knesset with the Likud, but he split off to run with his own party after a poor showing in the Likud primaries.  Like Gesher, the name is meant to follow in the footsteps of an old party that previously served in the Knesset with the Likud.
  • Union of Right-Wing Parties: This is a new union between the religious Zionist party The Jewish Home (minus the faction that split off as the New Right - see above), the settler party Tekuma (which was already part of an alliance with the Jewish Home), and the Kahanist party Otzma Yehudit (whose leader Michael Ben-Ari was banned from running, but the party itself was not).  The combined list is led by political newcomer and former IDF chief rabbi Rafi Peretz.
  • United Arab List (Ra'am) / Balad: This list includes the other 2 Arab parties that had been part of the Joint List (see above, under Hadash/Ta'al).  The new leader is Mansour Abbas of the Islamic Movement, who also represents a new generation.
  • United Torah Judaism: This union of the two major Ashkenazi haredi parties (Agudat Yisrael and Degel HaTorah) is led (for the sixth time) by Ya'akov Litzman.
  • Yisrael Beiteinu: Avigdor Lieberman is running once again at the head of this secular right-wing party.
Parties not represented in the current Knesset:

  • Achrayut Lameyasdim: Founded by Haim Dayan (who served in the Knesset with Tzomet in the '90s), this party focuses on issues facing senior citizens.
  • Ani v'Atah: "A social-liberal, democratic, and Zionist party"
  • Arab List: Not to be confused with any of the Arab parties that made up the Joint List, this list is led by Muhamad Kanan of the Arab National Party, which used to be part of the United Arab List.
  • Betach - Social Security: Founded by Semion Grafman, who served a prison term in the US for money laundering, this party requested the letters פק because they spelled an English expletive.
  • B'rit Olam: In the past, it ran as a Jewish/Arab party.  This time, founder Ofer Lifschitz is the sole candidate on the list.
  • Education: This party calls for an overhaul of the educational system.
  • Eretz Yisrael Shelanu: Started by the father of a terror victim, this party claims to be "a party for second-class citizens".
  • Hatikvah L'Shinui: An Arab party that calls for equality for Arab Israelis.
  • Ichud B'nei HaB'rit: A mostly Arab Christian party that also calls for equality for all citizens.
  • Justice for All: Most notably an animal rights party.
  • Kalkalah Yerukah - Medinah Achat: The name means "Green Economy - One State", and is a rebranding of Da'am, the Jewish/Arab socialist party.
  • Kevod HaAdam: The leader is Arkadi Pogetz, and not much information is available beyond the candidates' names.
  • Kol Yisrael Achim / Pe'ulah L'Yisrael: An Ethiopian-Israeli party led by former Likud MK Alali Adamso, running together with a party focusing on Mizrachi immigrants.
  • Magen: One more new party founded by a retired general (Gal Hirsch), describing itself as right-wing on foreign affairs and left-wing on social and economic issues.
  • Manhigut Hevratit: 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.
  • Mehatchalah: A new party whose platform includes overhauling the family/juvenile court system, and establishing direct elections of Knesset members.
  • Mifleget HaGush HaTanachi: A new Jewish-Christian party (with a message that may be anti-Muslim), trying to appeal to immigrants from the former Soviet Union.
  • Na Nach: Breslov Hasidim who dance in the streets.
  • Older Citizens' Party: As the name suggests, this is another party focusing on senior citizens' issues.
  • Pashut Ahavah: "Simply Love", a multicultural Jewish/Arab party.
  • Pirate Party: Part of the international network of Pirate Parties that supports Internet freedom and includes the current third-largest party in the Czech parliament.
  • Shavim: Their platform is about education, particularly special education.
  • Social Justice: Other parties have run under this name in the past (because it's easier to use an existing registered party than to start a new one), but this time there is a focus on environmental issues.
  • Yashar: This party supports direct democracy, and has developed an app so that party members can vote on how their Knesset representatives should vote on bills.
  • Zechuyoteinu B'Koleinu: Their signature issue is the working conditions of law-enforcement officers.
  • Zehut: This new party, founded by former Likud MK Moshe Feiglin, combines right-wing positions on some issues (annexing the West Bank) with libertarian positions on others (legalizing marijuana).

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Knesset April Madness 2019!

I know there haven't been any posts on this blog in years, but we're bringing it out of cold storage for... APRIL MADNESS 2019!!!  The Israeli election is coming up, and in the tradition of March Madness 2006, February Madness 2009, January Madness 2013, and March Madness 2015, we announce our fifth Knesset prediction pool!

How to Enter: Go to the April Madness link and put in your predictions for how many seats each of the 43 parties will win.  All predictions must be non-negative integers (0 is allowed), and your predictions must add up to 120. (For reasons discussed below, it is impossible for a party to win 1 or 2 seats, and unlikely that a party will win 3 seats.  However, if you choose to hedge your bets and guess that a given party will win 1, 2, or 3 seats, that is a legal entry in the contest.) Entrance is free, but there is a suggested donation of $10 to the organization of your choice dedicated to making Israel the best it can be. (If you win, feel free to share which organization you chose and why.)  Israeli citizens are encouraged to vote in the actual election as well.

The Rules (for the real election): The 43 parties have submitted ordered lists of candidates. Here is the full list of candidates in Hebrew, and lists of the parties in Arabic and English (I haven't seen an official source with the lists of candidates in English, but here's an unofficial list from Wikipedia). On election day (April 9), Israeli citizens will go to polling places in and near Israel, and vote for a party (not for individual candidates). All parties that win at least 3.25% of the vote will win seats in the Knesset, proportional to their share of the vote.  For example, suppose the Pirate Party wins 1% of the vote, Na Nach wins 33%, and Justice for All wins 66%. Then the Pirate Party wins no seats in the Knesset (since they were below the 3.25% threshold), and the other parties will proportionally split the 120 Knesset seats: Na Nach gets 40 seats (so the top 40 candidates on its list are elected), and The Justice for All gets 80 seats. If vacancies arise later in the term, there are no special elections – the next candidate on the party’s list (e.g. #41 on the Na Nach list) enters the Knesset. It is mathematically impossible for more than 30 parties to win seats in the Knesset (so at least 13 will be left out).

The Rules (for the April Madness pool): The deadline to enter is Monday, April 8, 2019, at 11:59 pm Israel Summer Time (4:59 pm EDT). When the final election results are published, each entry will receive a score based on how many Knesset seats were predicted correctly. For example, suppose the results are as in the above example (Justice for All 80, Na Nach 40). I predicted 60 seats for Na Nach, 50 for Justice for All, and 10 for Yashar. Then my score is 90, since I correctly predicted 40 seats for Na Nach and 50 seats for Justice for All.  The entry with the highest score wins!

Ties will be broken based on two tiebreaker questions:
1) Of the parties that do NOT win seats in the Knesset, which will come closest?
2) Which party will get the FEWEST votes?

The tiebreakers will be resolved in this order: exact match on question 1; exact match on question 2; closest on question 1 (if you picked a party that DOES win seats, you’re out of consideration for this one); closest on question 2.

Sometime soon, we’ll put up a post with descriptions of all the parties and links to their websites.

Good luck!!!!