One of the fun things about elections is keeping track of all the different people putting out the “easy guide to…” First of all — they’re pulling our legs. And not in the pleasant way. There is no easy guide to Israeli politics. We are all in for a roller-coaster for the next 90 days, but here at the Gates we will strive to keep you updated and on the beat.

A few pointers: Nothing is certain until the fat lady says Kaddish. Or rather – between now and the establishment of the 19th Knesset everything can happen.


The elections are January 22 (elections in Israel are always on a Tuesday – and we all get a day off work with full pay. #lovedemocracy!) That evening, around 22:00 the voting stations close, and several polling firms will publish their exit polls. ANd the Israeli and international media will run amok. They normally do. and we will all be reminded in the early hours of the morning (Jan 23) when the actual result is published. Sometimes the exit polls get it truly horribly wrong. Then, who ever heads the largest party is tasked by the President to form a government. Back in 2009 Livni’s Kadima was the largest party, but she couldn’t broker a government and that’s how Bibi and Likud got the government and Kadima ended up in the opposition.

Polls are already running wild – but most pundits have Netanyahu as a winner. Which at this stage does really mean anything. Like in the US (see US elections posts coming up tonight and in the coming days) the parties, the media and the establishment all seem to benefit from a ‘close race’ and so that’s what we get. Ehud Olmert might return to politics and if he does, he might be able to unite the opposition against Bibi. Or not. Or he may not legally be able to return (the various court cases against him are in flux).

On the bright side: There is less spin and fluff than in the US elections. At least from where I am sitting. What you see is what you get. For better and worse.

So – what can you get?

The Israeli Democracy Institute has an excellent overview (not guide — it’s a think-tank. They give you info and leave the thinking to you. We love them, here at the Gates!) It is so far only in Hebrew, but should be up in English any day soon.

The Times of Israel published this article last week. It also gives you a good intro to the main players.

And if you want the knick-knacks the Ministry of Justice has this official list (again in Hebrew) of the various parties and their goals. Notice the PIRATE PARTY at the end. Despite their stated goals (“advancing the status of the Pirate population”, loosely translated) I suspect they are part of the radical left-left-left / anarchist groups knows from Germany and Sweden. But i wouldn’t put it past my compatriots to vote them above teh 2% threshold. Truthfully, in Israeli elections I wouldn’t put most thing past us. Stay tuned. And fasten your seat belts. It’s gonna be a bumpy ride! But that’s part and parcel of democracy 🙂




Substitute “Macbeth” for “elections”, Bette Davis’ character (margot) for “the PM”, “Addison deWitt” (the smug middle-aged man) for “the Israeli public”, the  Marilyn Monroe character for “Yair Lapid”, Anne Baxter’s character (eve) for “Shelly Yachimovich”, the “producer” for “the media”…