Alternative for Yisrael

Alternative for Yisrael

אלטרנטיבה לישראל
nameModern Hebrew
LeaderReuven Goldschmidt
Economic Development MinisterMendel Feinstein
FounderReuven Goldschmidt
FoundedNovember 7, 2019 (2019-11-07)
Split fromConstitutional Liberal Party
HeadquartersModiin, Yisrael
IdeologyCentrism
Middle-income interests
Chiloni-interests
Growth-interests
Opposition to Green liberalism
Internal Factions:
Classical liberalism
Ordoliberalism
Economic liberalism
Radical centrism
Political positionCenter-to-Center-Left
ReligionChiloni-sector of Orthodox Judaism
Colors     Light blue
Seats in the Royal Knesset
25 / 142

Alternative for Yisrael, most commonly called by its acronym AfY (colloquially), is a contemporary centrist, middle-income family interests, and Chiloni-sector interests major political party in Yisrael. Since 2020, it has displaced the Constitutional Liberal Party as the chief opposition to the governing Right Bloc.

The AfY splintered from the chief opposition party the Constitutional Liberals in advance of the 2020 general election due to what its founder ascribed as widespread illegal secularist thought among the Con-Lib ranks. The party at its founding took about a quarter (10 seats) of the Con-Libs' caucus of sitting Members of Knesset. Its political base is thought to compete with the similarly center-right/middle-income-interests Action Yisrael party, which has found great electoral success in the suburban areas outside major metropolitan cities throughout the country.

The Action Yisrael party shortly after the AfY's founding abandoned the Right Bloc due to its increasing Neoconservatism and joined the AfY to form the United Center Bloc. After the 2020 elections, the United Center Bloc, led by the AfY, is the chief opposition in the Knesset. Owing to the political custom that the majority party or coalition selects one Cabinet position from the chief opposition, AfY member Mendel Feinstein serves as the Economic Development Minister in the Katz Cabinet.

Platform and philosophy

While the party outlined a few broadly and vaguely centrist principles upon its launch, its platform did not have substantive depth until after the formation of the United Center Bloc with the Action Yisrael.

On November 24, 2019, the AfY released a political manifesto and legislative agenda if given the reins of power, or if it gained enough power to influence the majority:

  • Party of Moderates and Centrists: the AfY pledged that it would represent the political interests of the political center in Yisrael, and rejected extremism and radicalism.
  • Resolute Foreign Policy: Detailing more of the party's national-liberal center of gravity, the AfY argued for a forceful diplomatic and national security posture that protected Yisraeli interests and citizens near and far and supported a more aggressive counter-terrorism policy.
  • New or Expanded Family Tax and Benefit Programs: The AfY advocated a new set of family tax reduction and subsidy programs, estimated to cost $3.4 billion shekels over ten years by independent economists. To offset some of this cost, it has argued to cut the kollel subsidies to (the mostly Chareidi) Torah learners between 33.3–59.5%, sparking fierce push back by the Torah Achdus party of the Right Bloc.

History

Founding

The party was founded by Reuven Goldschmidt on November 7, 2019, about two months before the 2020 general election.

Goldschmidt told the Royal Yerushalayim Dispatch at a press conference that, "I did not leave the Constitutional Liberal Party - it left me. Every year, it seems to embrace more and more foreign ideas that have no place in Yisrael. I have personally observed numerous party leaders, including Members of Knesset, alluding to being secret secularists. My former party no longer represents who I am. I believe the government can have a positive, active role in making our lives better, but we must remember that all we have comes from Hashem [G-d]. I will no longer stay party to a faction that quietly rejects the foundation of our very country."

He was joined by nine other sitting MKs who left the Con-Lib caucus. On November 11, 2019, the AfY registered its new party caucus with the Secretary of the Royal Knesset. On November 14, the AfK announced a large slate of Knesset candidates to compete in targeted Knesset districts.

2020 elections

Presidential election

The same day he announced his new party, Goldschmidt also launched a presidential campaign for the upcoming January 27, 2020 election, facing Conservative Party nominee (and current Foreign Minister) Yitzchok Katz and Constitutional Liberal Party nominee (and sitting Member of Knesset) Yosef Kaduri.

Several early polls out after his launch had Goldschmidt between 22–29% of the vote, with Katz at 28–43% and Kaduri at 24–35% (some of the polls had large undecided respondent rates that reduces their reliability).

On November 17, 2019, the Action Yisrael national committee announced it was leaving the Conservative-led Blue-Gray-Maroon coalition (2018-19) (the 48th Knesset had already concluded its last session before the 2020 election) and that it was cross-endorsing the AfY rather than its former coalition partner the Conservatives for the presidential election, as well as announcing an "United Center" political bloc with the AfY in the new 49th session of the Knesset, pledging to not compete against each other's candidates and to cooperate when the next Knesset is seated.

By mid-December, polling showed Goldschmidt had overtaken the Con-Libs' Kaduri to become the direct competitor to leading candidate Katz. In early January, Goldschmidt and Katz were neck and neck in the polls. However, after the passing of King Yaakov II and the pause in campaigning and subsequently the enthroning of his heir King Hezekiah III, who gave a subtle endorsement of the Conservatives live on air during his televised speech to the country, Goldschmidt's momentum reversed as his carefully-stitched together centrist coalition started to bleed right and left.

After polling as high as 44% during the end of the presidential contest, Goldschmidt ended up with 31% of the popular vote and 64 Electoral Votes in the Electoral College.

Knesset elections

Several early polls showed the AfY maintaining its current seats and adding between 3-10 additional seats, mostly at the expense of the Con-Libs, Alliance of Greens, Seculars, and Workers, and to a lesser degree, the Conservatives.

At the end of the 2020 elections, the AfY and AY swept a number of marginal and suburban/urban former Con-Lib strongholds, with the AfY gaining 15 seats and the AY 5 new seats. All but five of their gains came from the Con-Libs and the minor left-wing party the Alliance of Greens, Seculars, and Workers.

District and local elections

The United Center Bloc, which was usually led by AfY candidates, ousted both Con-Lib governors in the Central and Southern Districts. AfY and the AY continued their suburban and urban wave in District legislative races, uprooting Con-Libs and some Conservatives across the country in lower races.

Southern

In the Southern District, popular former Constitutional Liberal Netanel Aut-Aurifex who ran as the AfY's candidate beat sitting incumbent Con-Lib Gov. Gavriel Halperin by a stunning 53.4%, running slightly ahead of Goldschmidt's numbers in the District, with Halperin behind with 30.8% and the little-funded Conservative garnering 15%.

The unicamerical legislature, called the District Council, was going into 2020 split 55 Con Lib, 34 Conservative, and 11 other. After 2020, the United Center parties redrew the map: the AfY won 27 seats, its partner the Action Yisrael 19 seats, the Conservatives lost 11 to 26 seats, and the Con-Libs and the AGSW won 27 seats combined.

Central

In the historic stronghold of the Con-Libs, a political earthquake was occurring. Goldschmidt won 42.9% to Kaduri's 33.5%.

In the governor's race, incumbent Con-Lib Hershel Yakowitz faced former moderate Conservative governor Yitzchok Felix, who had joined the Action Yisrael and was the United Center candidate against Felix. Unusually, he was cross-endorsed by the Conservatives. He ousted Felix 54.6%-45.1%.

In the bicameral Central legislature, the AfY made large gains across suburban and exurban seats.

Organization and hierarchy

Election results and current representation

Current representation

The AfY currently have 25 MKs in the Royal Knesset. It is the Chief Opposition in HRM's Government. It is led by party leader Reuven Goldschmidt (AfY-Modiin), who is also the Knesset Minority Leader.

Election results

Royal Knesset
Election Leader Seats won +/− Rank Majority
2020 Reuven Goldschmidt
25 / 142
Increase 15 #2 Minority

International affiliation and criticism

The party is affiliated with the Democratic Alternative party in Sydalon.