General elections are only three months away — March 17, 2015 — and the political uproar in Israel has broken its own records. Labor Party Chairman Isaac (Bogie) Herzog and the laid-off Justice Minister Tzipi Livni from the Hatnua Party organized a news conference the night of Dec. 10 in which they announced the unification of their Knesset lists and running jointly in the upcoming elections. As of this moment, the polls predict a narrow victory for this list over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud.
The surprise that Herzog and Livni kept under wraps until the very last minute was earthshaking. If the public votes for us, the duo announced, then Herzog would be prime minister for the first two years of the term and Livni for the subsequent two years. Israel has never seen such a thing before. One rotation government did serve in Israel in the 1980s (former President Shimon Peres and the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir), but that rotation resulted from a tie between the two large parties. At the time, the Labor and Likud parties each garnered over 40 seats, and did not need additional parties to form a coalition. Today, the large parties have lost half their strength. Herzog and Livni would have to add four parties to a future coalition if they want to form a government together.