The initial exit polls are in and Kadima is leading Likud by 2 mandates but here is the rub. Exit polls in Israel are unreliable most of the time and Livni cannot form a coalition from strictly ‘leftist' parties - without Shas or Israel Beiteinu. She brings in Israel Beiteinu, and she will in all probability lose Labor, Meretz, and the small the small Arab list. If Kadima and Labor agree to act as anchors, and she can bring Shas on side for points, Livni has a workable coalition.
Despite what you may have read today, Shas should be more characterized as a ‘left-wing’ party than ‘right-wing’. Shas comes down closer to Labor than Kadima and its vote can be brought for the ‘right’ funding and a promise not to negotiate over Jerusalem. Shas, may even make it a ‘principle’ to stand with Kadima and Labor in order to try to negate the leftward’s worst impulses - giving away Jerusalem and secular marriage. If anything, it buys Livni time to rule for at least the next 18 months or next war – which ever comes first.
But if Livni was really smart as she thinks she is; she would call up Ehud Barak and say here is my plan. I intend to make Bibi an offer to join my coalition and I will give him either Finance or Foreign Affairs with a rotating Prime Ministership. For Barak’s support, he gets to keep Defense and a few other high profile portfolios. So what’s the inner beauty of this plan? Livni can say to Bibi he can finally unshackle himself from owing the religious with their incessant never-ending demands. For Barak, he gets to join a coalition Labor can live with without the necessity of having to pander to the religious, and he keeps a high profile portfolio for himself. This also gives Barak time to rebuild Labor’s fortunes. It’s a win-win scenario for all three established parties, and gives Israelis the ‘broad tent national coalition’ as well as giving Livni the freedom to negotiate literally anything away. Downside – Bibi’s ego, Livni’s ego, Barak’s ego.
Now if Livni can’t get anyone on board, Netanyahu may approach Livni and Barak on the sly with a similar deal and by-pass Shas, Israel Beiteinu, National Union, Jewish Home party, United Torah Judaism et al etc. Of course, if Bibi’s offering; there would be no ‘rotating’ Prime Ministership but both parties get power and a chance to rebuild their political fortunes. Either two master national coalition scenarios would be good for Likud, Kadima and Labor but bad for Jews everywhere.