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).

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