The 2001 Israeli Elections: What Next?

Election Outcome
About Prime Minister Sharon
Sharon on the Peace Process
The Need to Build a Governing Coalition
What Next for the Labor Party?


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The Need to Build a Governing Coalition

Sharon’s first major challenge is to cobble together a governing coalition in the Knesset. Currently, Likud holds only 19 seats in the 120-seat Knesset. By law, Sharon has 45 days from the time the results are official (March 30) to form a coalition. An equally pressing deadline is March 31, the date under Israeli law that the Government must pass its budget. If the Knesset fails to pass three readings of the budget by that date, the Knesset must dissolve, triggering new elections for both Prime Minister and Knesset.

Prime Minister-elect Sharon’s options for a coalition are as follows:

National Unity Government:

Throughout his campaign, Sharon pledged that upon victory he would immediately invite the Labor Party to join Likud in a National Unity Government. Public opinions polls show that the majority of Israelis would welcome such a government. Labor, however, may decide to forgo a National Unity Government because of fundamental disagreements over peace process policy, or, more cynically, because of the expectation that Sharon’s government will be short-lived, and instead work on rebuilding their party in opposition until the next election.

Under a National Unity scenario, Likud’s 19 seats would be joined by Labor’s 26 seats (under the "One Israel" banner which includes the Gesher and Meimad parties). Natan Scharansky’s Yisrael B’Aliyah Party (4 seats), along with the National Religious Party (5 seats) would be expected to join the coalition. Other possibilities are Tommy Lapid’s ultra-secular Shinui Party (6 seats) and all or some of the Center Party (6 Knesset seats) would join in a coalition with the Likud.

Right-wing/Orthodox Coalition:

Sharon could bring together a right-wing coalition which includes Orthodox and politically right-wing parties. This so-called "narrow coalition" would most likely be comprised of Likud (15 seats), National Religious Party (5 seats, Yisrael Ba’aliya (4 seats), the Sephardic Orthodox Shas Party (17 seats), the far right-wing Yisrael Beiteinu (7 seats), the ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism (5) and Herut (1). In addition, the Gesher Party, which has 2 seats in the "One Israel" faction, is certain to join the Likud coalition, as would as many as 3 seats from the Center Party.



Next: What Next for the Labor Party?


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