Six Lost Knesset Seats

Anyone who refuses to compromise and prefers to vote for a party that has no chance, should remember that he may have cause to cry - profusely - over his spilled vote.

The right wing still shudders with horror at the memory of the 1992 elections, when Tehiya received 32,000 votes that were worth one and a half Knesset seats, but did not get the minimum number of votes required to enter the Knesset.

In those elections, the left and Arabs had a preventive bloc of 61 Knesset seats. Many in the right are asking themselves whether Tehiya's lost Knesset seat was the one that made the Oslo process possible.

In the 1999 elections, it was Pnina Rosenblum, the pensioners, Green Leaf, the Third Way, and the Greens who caused 150,000 votes - worth almost six Knesset seats - to go to waste. It is reasonable to assume that this waste of votes was instrumental in Shas' gaining 17 Knesset seats. It is doubtful whether this was the voters' intention.

Some 38,000 people voted for Green Leaf in the previous elections, comprising 1.2 percent of the overall voters, and yet the party's leader, Boaz Wachtel, stayed outside the Knesset. Some 36,000 voted for Herut - Michael Kleiner and Baruch Marzel's list - causing other right-wing parties to lose one to two Knesset seats. Could these votes have prevented the disengagement? We'll never know.

In the last two elections, the threshold to enter the Knesset was 1.5 percent. In the upcoming elections, it will grow to 2 percent, which is estimated to be about 70,000 votes. The latest Haaretz and Dialog poll under the supervision of Professor Camil Fuchs indicates that Shinui, Hetz, Green Leaf and Uzi Dayan's Tafnit will get one percent each, and the Pensioners' list will get about half a percent. All told, more than 160,000 votes (4.5 percent, or some six Knesset seats) will be lost to these five parties. According to Mina Tzemah and Dahaf's last poll, the Pensioners, Green Leaf, Shinui, Hetz and the Greens will cause a loss of some 150,000 votes.

Green Leaf was supported by 1.2 percent in the last Haaretz and Dahaf polls. Five percent of the youngsters under the age of 30 intend to vote for it. On the surface, this is a classic protest vote against the entire political system and for the legalization of light drugs. But, in fact, Green Leaf's lost votes only will strengthen the establishment.

The Dahaf poll says Shinui and Hetz will receive only half a percent each, a quarter of the required minimum to enter the Knesset. Tafnit gets 1.2 percent in the Haaretz poll, but does not appear in the Dahaf poll. The Pensioners won 1.4 percent in Dahaf's poll, but half a percent in Haaretz's. So no one will get high voting for Green Leaf, and no change or turning point is expected from supporting Shinui (change, in Hebrew) or Tafnit (turning point, in Hebrew) and a ballot for Hetz (arrow, in Hebrew) will turn into a boomerang.

This time the right wing has no real cause for concern from the lost votes: most of the voters for Tafnit, Green Leaf, Shinui, Hetz, the Greens and Pensioners will cause the secular, particularly left-wing, parties to lose votes, thereby strengthening the radical right-wing and religious parties. The secular voter who is neither radical right nor left, in fact, has a choice among only four parties that will definitely enter the Knesset: Likud, Kadima, Labor and Meretz.

It would seem that Hetz and Shinui supporters would do better to vote for Meretz, thus enabling Zviya Greenberg - the ultra-Orthodox woman in Meretz's sixth slot - to enter the Knesset, rather than waste their vote on a lost party and indirectly usher Yaakov Cohen, the haredi in United Torah Judaism's sixth slot, into the Knesset.

Meretz also appears to be the alternative for young Green Leaf voters, because it supports putting an end to the persecution of cannabis smokers. Amir Peretz would appear to be a suitable candidate to Tafnit voters, who want to protest corruption and the connection between power and wealth. Labor's Shelly Yachimovich would do more for the elderly than Rafi Eitan, the head of the Pensioners' list, who won't get into the Kesset.

Granted, all these considerations require the voter to compromise. But anyone who refuses to compromise and prefers to vote for a party that has no chance, should remember that he may have cause to cry - profusely - over his spilled vote.