Monday, May 20, 2002

Brer Sharon and the Briar Patch-Interesting development today, where Sharon dumped two religious parties from his coalition as they balked at a austerity plan. Shas, the largest of the two parties, is the Robert Byrd of Israeli politics; send the pork (religious school funding, welfare, etc.) their way and they'll be part of any coalition. It sounds a bit familiar. The reshuffle leaves Sharon with exactly half of the Knesset in his coalition and is now reliant on Labor to avoid losing a vote of no confidence. The classic response to such a situation is to have a junior partner overplay its hand and force a new election. However, Sharon might want a new election, as Likud would likely pick up seats, albeit with Netanyahu possibly at the helm. Labor may be smart and not press their luck. However, it would only take one renegade member to bring down the coalition, so the next few months could be real fun to see the political maneuverings in the Knesset.

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