Democratic Union

Democratic Union
Leader: Nitzan Horowitz
Current Seats: 4 (as Meretz)
Recommended candidate for prime minister in the Twenty-First Knesset: Benny Gantz (as Meretz)
Supports/Opposes Two-State Solution: Supports

The Democratic Union is a left-wing alliance, bringing together the social-democratic Meretz party together with former Prime Minister Ehud Barak’s Israel Democratic Party. Member of Knesset Stav Shaffir left the Labor Party in order to help cement the joint left-wing ticket. The Democratic Union aims to unseat Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and its platform includes support for immediate negotiations with the Palestinians based on a two-state solution, revocation of the Nation-State Law, and support for democratic institutions and human rights organizations.

The Democratic Union includes Meretz, Ehud Barak's Israel Democratic Party, and MK Stav Shaffir, who left the Labor Party to join the new bloc.

The purpose of the Democratic Union is to prevent the center-left bloc from splintering or “wasting votes” if several small parties were to fail to cross the threshold. After April’s election, former Prime Minister Ehud Barak’s reentry into politics at the head of the new Israel Democratic Party raised concerns that voters who traditionally supported Meretz and Labor would be split, to the detriment of all parties on the left. When the merger was announced, Meretz chair Nitzan Horowitz was given the top spot on the joint ticket, with Stav Shaffir second. Horowitz is a journalist and former MK who defeated Tamar Zandberg in the Meretz leadership election in June.

In the lead-up to the Democratic Union merger, Israeli Arab Meretz MK Issawi Frej compelled Ehud Barak to apologize for the police killing of twelve Israeli Arab demonstrators and one Gaza Palestinian in October 2000, when Barak was prime minister.

The merger with the Israel Democratic Party brings in potentially valuable figures like former IDF Deputy Chief of Staff Yair Golan, and the Democratic Union is expected to produce a better finish than Meretz would have received by itself. However, Ehud Barak is a controversial figure in Israeli politics. On the right, he is distrusted for withdrawing Israeli forces from southern Lebanon and attempting to negotiate a two-state solution with Yasser Arafat. On the left, he is often criticized for splitting the Labor Party in 2011 in order to retain his position as defense minister in Netanyahu’s government. Many Israeli Arabs also object to Barak’s behavior as prime minister during a series of demonstrations in October 2000 in which 12 Arab citizens and one Gaza Palestinian were killed by police. Meretz MK Isawwi Frej, himself an Israeli Arab, helped smooth Barak’s transition into the merger. Frej compelled the former prime minister to issue a formal apology to the families of those killed in 2000, and the Meretz MK also plans to hold visits with the families. Barak accepted tenth place on the joint party list.

Party List:

1. Nitzan Horowitz

2. Stav Shaffir

3. Yair Golan

4. Tamar Zandberg

5. Ilan Gilon

6. Esawi Freige

7. Yifat Bitton

8. Yael Cohen Paran

9. Noa Rothman

10. Ehud Barak

11. Gilad Kariv

12. Mossi Raz

13. Michal Rozin

14. Yair (Yaya) Fink

15. Smadar Shmueli

16. Zeinab Abu Sweid

17. Malka Armon

18. Avi Buskila

19. Gaby Lasky

20. Ali Salalha