The coalition government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, headed by the Likud party, was sworn in on 31 March 2009, following the 10 February elections. The 18th Knesset, Israel’s parliament, was comprised of a dozen parties (exactly the same as the previous Knesset). Surprisingly, Likud did not win the largest number of seats; it came in second closely after Kadima, which won one more seat. However, Likud was able to form a majority coalition government with five other parties: Likud (27); Israel Our Home (15); Labour (13); Shas (11), United Torah Judaism (5); and The Jewish Home (3), for a total of 74 of the 120 seats in the Israeli parliament. The numerous coalition partners were quite generously rewarded in the formation of the Netanyahu government, which was one of the largest cabinets in Israel’s history. Between ministers and deputy ministers, almost one-third of the legislature held executive positions. This is a main reason why the coalition government survived almost four full years.
There were only two changes in the coalition during its tenure. The first change involved the Labour party. Since the establishment of the government, there were internal conflicts within the Labour party between those who supported joining the coalition and those who opposed it. In January 2011, the Labour party officially split, when its leader (Ehud Barak, the Minister of Defense) left with four of the party’s 13 MPs to form the Independence Party. The remaining eight Labour MPs left the coalition, reducing the coalition’s majority from 74 to 66 of 120 MPs, and joined the opposition. Although the numerical majority was reduced, the coalition was stabile because it still had a comfortable majority, and it became more cohesive due to the departure of those who were at odds with it.
Full Article: 2013 Israeli Pre-Election Report — The Monkey Cage.