Likud ministers on Saturday acknowledged their dismay after the party’s unexpectedly poor showing in the Knesset elections on Tuesday, but a senior Likud minister said the party’s 31 seats did not make it a failure.
Speaking with Channel 2’s “Meet the Press” Saturday night, Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz said his party wanted more seats and that it would “investigate and professionally examine where and why” the Likud-Beytenu list received fewer than projected.
The Likud and Yisrael Beytenu parties held a combined 42 seats in the last Knesset and had initially been expected to win that many in this week’s parliamentary elections. At one stage in the three-month campaign, the combined list was forecast to win 47 seats, but as the weeks progressed, polls indicated the ruling party’s crumbling support.
Katz explained that part of the reason why Likud-Beytenu fared so poorly relative to its expectations was because the Israeli public was convinced that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was going to be reelected as prime minister, and it therefore opted to vote for other parties.
He insisted that the elections, in which Likud-Beytenu won 12 seats more than the runner-up party — Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid — were not a failure.
“The achievement was not what we aspired for it to be,” Katz, No. 8 on the Likud-Beytenu list, said.
Moreover, Katz noted, more than 80 of the 120 newly elected MKs expressed interest in their parties joining a Likud-led coalition.
“We want all the more parties in the government, so it will be a broad government capable of dealing with all the political, social, and economic issues,” he said.
Vice Premier Silvan Shalom also voiced disappointment in the Likud party’s falling short of expectations, pointing the finger — in part — at Likud’s alliance with Yisrael Beytenu.
“It’s impossible to ignore it, this union was unsuccessful,” he told Channel 10.
“There is no doubt that we took a hit. The union was unsuccessful because it had many people that couldn’t live with one another, like oil and water,” he said without mentioning names.
“There’s the feeling that the young population isn’t with us.”
Many party members have spent the past few days engaged in internal recrominations, with Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar, the campaign chairman, a notable subject of criticism for ostensibly running a poor operation. The alliance with Liberman’s secular Russian-supported party has also been widely castigated for purportedly driving more traditional and Orthodox voters out of the party and into supporting Naftali Bennett’s Jewish Home, which won a strong 12 seats.