Friday, February 22, 2013

Is Fear of Being a "Frier" The Key Dynamic in Coalition Forming Process?

Dr. Aaron Lerner..
IMRA Weekly Commentary..
21 February '13..

It has been said that Israelis fear being a "frier" [being a patsy] more than dying.

This may very be the key dynamic explaining pretty much every actor in any way associated with the coalition forming process today.

Bennett doesn't want to end up being a patsy in agreeing to join the coalition only to find himself either not in the final coalition or in a coalition that adopts either policies or makes appointments that make him look like a patsy. Consider the national laughing stock he would be today, for example, if Bennett had already announced he was joining the coalition without finalizing policy principles first and he learned from news reports, after the fact, that Livni was being appointed to negotiate with the Palestinians.

The silence of pretty much all the Likud MKs to the Livni appointment also reflects their "fear of friering". Livni may want to divide Jerusalem, transfer Ariel to the Palestinians and serve witness before the world that various harebrained schemes are indeed viable. But if the Palestinians never agree to talk the appointment will be bereft of meaning. And any Likud MKs who lost their chance to be a minister or hold a select position in the Knesset because they voiced their opposition to the appointment would, after the fact, be patsies.

Yair Lapid would also be a patsy if he joined the coalition and none of the agenda that got him elected was implemented.

It may also be possible that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is concerned that while he actually endorses the broad strokes of the agendas that brought so many votes to Yesh Atid and Habayit Hayehudi that he would end up being a patsy if these parties were both in the coalition and these agendas were realized since Netanyahu might not end up getting the credit for the reforms.

This brings us to the Likud voters.

The Livni appointment makes many Likud voters already feel like patsies.

They voted for Sharon and they got the retreat from Gaza advocated by Sharon’s rival and ridiculed by Sharon during the campaign.

Now they voted for Netanyahu who, during the election campaign ridiculed the idea that Livni would negotiate with the Palestinians, only to find Mr. Netanyahu in his very first coalition forming announcement, appointing Livni to the task.

As the polls coming out now indicate, if elections were held again today, there are a lot of Likud voters who don’t want to risk being patsies a third time.

Which brings me to venture a guess.

The absolute biggest patsy in the State of Israel should the country go to new elections because a coalition of 61 is not formed would be Binyamin Netanyahu.

At the end of the day, Netanyahu's own "fear of friering" will compel him to come up with the 61 votes. Come what may.

A final thought: the most useful election reform would be to drastically reduce the coalition forming period to seven days plus a seven days extension. No good comes from burning 28 days and an additional 14 days on the process.


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