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Feb 11, 2009

Why did Shas shrink?

It is time to move on to other topics, and leave the elections behind us. I know I am tired of elections, and I am sure you are too. As governments are being established and rejected I am sure I will have what to say, but now it is time to get back to other things.

One last "election thought" I want to say is regarding Shas.

Shas was in a position to improve on their 12 seats. The ashkenazy haredi party was fighting with themselves and many voters were bolting and voting Shas out of frustration. Shas should have picked up another seat or two while working to keep their own voters home. Yet they lost a seat, despite the additional ashkenazy voters. Some will blame the war, but I don't think that was it. Eli Yishai talked as tough as any othe rpolitician, and he made a point of spending a lot of time and being on video down south under rocket fire. Shas should not have been perceived in the eye of the voter as being any weaker on security than anybody else.

Yet they lost a mandate. Why?

I suspect the reason is because they are being perceived more and mroe as being a haredi party, rather than as being a sfardi party. It used to be the core voters of Shas were mostly traditional sfardim, and then add to that the sfardi haredim. Int he past few years, the party has been perceived more and mroe haredi and less connected to the traditional sfardim. Most of the fights Shas has fought in the last government were fights for the yeshivas, budgets for haredi families (be it in the form of child allowances or other), and not general traditional values with social issues the traditional sfardim are interested in.

I think the core masorati sfardi voter has been moving away from Shas - either back to Likud or to Yisrael Beiteinu - due to the increased haredization of Shas. If that is the case, Shas might have hit its limit for a long time - there is a limit how high a haredi party can go, considering the size of the haredi population in Israel. If Shas is now a haredi party, we might continue seeing the dwnward trend. They would do themselves a favor and head back to the traditional voter they used to appeal to, and not only dabble in the haredi aspect of their party... if they want to get big again.

We'll see what direction Shas goes from here...

17 comments:

  1. "They would do themselves a favor and head back to the traditional voter they used to appeal to, and only dabble in the haredi aspect of their party... if they want to get big again"

    I think you meant to say "and NOT ONLY dabble in the haredi aspect of their party... if they want to get big again"

    If so, point well taken.

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  2. i completely agree. this was the consensus in my house last night....

    also, what a waste of all the small right wing party votes....they totally gave the election away!

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  3. anon - corrected. thanks for catching it. that is what I meant.

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  4. . . .either that or UTJ should stop acting like blogger heads and have a bit of achdus Yisroel in them. If the two parties were combined they would firstly have garnered (at the present count)16 seats, and secondly may have caused others from defecting when they see how the Hareidim are actually working together.

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  5. mrsrbs, whoa! slow down there a sec.

    a) it is not clear if Livni can form a coalition.

    b) if she does Netanyahu is in it. or Lieberman.

    so I am not sure if that is as bad as a netanyahu led gov't comprised of Kadima and Avoda which as past performance while not guranteeing future results is a pretty good indicator that such a gov't will not take any of the strong stands needed and rockets will continue unchekced, Iran getys the bnomb unchecked, etc,etc,

    Since Netanyahu might be forced to choose a right wing gov't witht he right wing parties totaslly uninfluenced by Kadima or Avida the gov't miht actually be right wing. Of course the Haredim wil need to be thrown their bones and that is somethign we will just have to swallow.

    But lt us daven and see how things play out. It could be very good.

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  6. "and I am sure you are to"
    should read
    "and I am sure you are too"

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  7. Yes, partially from what you said - the perception of it being a hareidi-only party. They tried to counter that perception with articles like this on their website, but it was not enough.

    Secondly, some ashkenazi hareidim decided to back National Union instead of Shas, since Ketzaleh built up many Hareidi settlements in Yehuda and Shomron and an overall admiration of Ketzaleh.

    Thirdly, Shas's message that they want to be perceived as a right-wing party is not being transfered to the media, so some people wrongly think that they have left-leaning tendencies.

    Finally, there is still some anti-sephardi bias going on unfortunately.

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  8. I forgot to add 2 more points:

    Some Shas voters were voting Lieberman this time for some odd reason, thus prompting the Rav Ovadia and Baba Baruch videos against Lieberman.

    Also, some Shas voters I'm sure heeded Rafi's rallying cry to vote Likud as an anti-Livni protest vote.

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  9. I think the average Shas voter doesn't read this blog, yaak... but you never know!

    It is possible, but I think the ones who returned to Likud did so more because they feel out of sync with Shas...

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  10. anon, you might be right. am too depressed to get excited about that.

    The bottom line is that if those votes would have been cast for likud, then we would not be in this situation.

    Likud is not perfect. Perfection is the enemy of the good...that's why I voted Likud.

    Even if Likud forms a coalition, they will be a minority in their own government. That's never good. Once again, that's why I said the small right wing parties are a total waste...

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  11. Mr Srbs - you are forgetting that whoever forms a coalition will still be a minority in the government. That's whats so surreal about the whole situation. How can someone with 25% of the voters backing be primeminister? If it wasn't so sad I would laugh

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  12. I think that the answer is more basic that what you wrote: IMO the era of sectorial parties, including religious parties, is coming to an end. All of the dati parties lost seats.

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  13. The bottom line is that religion and politics just don't mix. That doesn't mean that there can't be religious candidates (ie Feiglin and Hotoveli in Likud, Melechoir in Meimad/Labor).

    But a party built on a religious sector is bound to be problematic..history here has proven this.

    Personally I would rather see more moral giants like Tzipy Hotoveli and feiglin run in the big parties such as Likud than have the chilulei HaShem in the religious parties.

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  14. Tired of the elections??? Not me! It has been great. We had the US election followed by the local BS election and then the keneset election. Now what am I going to do with myself?

    Shas has more or less held onto its strength. In the '96 election they polled 10 seats, 11 in 2003 and 12 and 2006.
    The only exception to that rule was 17 in '99 when Deri who was found guilty of corruption ran a very successful campaign on how the whole establishment especially the judiciary system is against the sefardim. Remember, we voted for PM and keneset separately back then so it was easy for traditional sefardim to vote for Bibi and vote for Shas.

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  15. Shimon - they are close, but they did go down... Of course, soldiers votes that are counted tomorrow might bump them back up to 12... but you also have to take into account the fact that if not for the estimated 8000-10000 votes by ashkenazy haredim who were upset at UTJ, they would probably have dropped to 10 rather than 11.

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  16. Despite the fact that Likud picked up 16 seats, Shas only lost one. That is impressive.

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  17. good point eli, that is impressive. I think most of Likuds seats were picked up from Shas (one or two - shas made up for it with ashkenazy votes), ichud and mafdal, and mostly probably form kadima. Kadima made up for it be taking from labor and meretz.

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