Akkan general election, February 2020

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Akkan general election, February 2020

Akkoflag.png
20/02/20 October 2020 →
Party Leader % Seats ±
Liberal Union Joseph Cohen 35 13
Conservative Party Ben Adelman 21 8
People's Democratic Union Ali Kadhimi 19 7
Labor Zionist Party Eli Barak 10 4
Movement for the Homeland Robert Lieberman 9 3
Peace & Equality Party Antoun Hussein 3 1
Communist Party Yusuf Kanafi 3 1
This lists parties that won seats. See the complete results below.
Prime Minister
Joseph Cohen
Liberal Union

The February 2020 Akkan general election was held on the 20th of February 2020, and was the first general election in Acre's history. All forty-seven members of the Akkan Parliament were elected using a system of party-list proportional representation. The Liberal Union won a resounding victory, securing a total of thirteen seats, five ahead of their nearest rival, the Conservative Party. The Liberal Union's leader Joseph Cohen took up office as Acre's first Prime Minister, in coalition with the Labor Zionist Party supported by the PDU through confidence and supply.

Background

State Institutions

Acre was founded just a month prior to the February elections; as a result, the vote was widely seen as a debate on what the institutions of Acre would look like. A point of major controversy was the existence of the emirate; Acre was founded initially by a group of Muslims, but quickly came to possess a majority-Israeli population, many of whom were uncomfortable with the Arab Islamic emirate. The People's Democratic Union and the Peace & Equality Party were avowed supporters of the emir, believing he acted as a bulwark against an Israeli-dominated parliament, who could protect Arab interests if necessary.

Israeli parties were torn - the Movement for the Homeland, Communist Party, and elements of the Conservative Party and the Labor Zionist Party sought to remove the emirate altogether, replacing it with a ceremonial presidency, either elected or appointed by the Parliament. The Conservatives and the Labor Party officially supported a system of strict limitations on the emir's power, as did the Liberal Union.

Parties also debated whether Acre should establish a codified constitution, outlining precisely each branch of government's powers. This idea quickly lost out to the notion of parliamentary supremacy, wherein branches like the emirate and the Shura Council were to be subordinated to the Akkan Parliament.

Religion and Politics

Prior to the election, the Emir had created a system of Sharia courts to handle civil disputes between Muslims. More controversially, he had established a Shura Council, responsible for ruling on constitutional affairs. Some Israelis supported the Sharia courts so long as a Rabbinical counterpart existed for Jews; others sought to remove the Sharia courts and thoroughly secularise the judicial system. Most Israeli parties however were unanimous in their opposition to the Shura Council, with only the Liberal Union dissenting, believing the principle of parliamentary supremacy could be used to constrain the Council.

In a similar vein, many felt Acre's flag had to be changed, which contained the moon and star - a symbol associated with Islam - and a green background - again associated with Islam. Midway through the election the Liberal Union proposed the creation of a second official flag, which was popular among many Akkans.

COVID-19

At the time, the Coronavirus had only just begun to concern populations outside of China. The virus was still mostly limited to cities like Wuhan, though cases were beginning to be reported in countries like Italy. Many Akkans however were concerned that the rate of infection could exponentially grow if it was carried to Acre. As a result, parties were expected to vocalise an opinion on a national lockdown if cases were reported in Acre, as well as a proposal to ban all flights to and from China.

Electoral System

Acre uses a form of party-list proportional representation. Voters cast their ballot for a political party, with seats in Parliament then allocated to parties proportionally, who choose candidates to fill their allocated seats. This form of party-list proportional representation is also used in Albania, Argentina and Israel. Additionally, members of Parliament are allocated a constituency proportional to an area's degree of support for their party. As a result, for parties which win small amounts of support throughout the entire country - like the Communist Party - they may end up representing a constituency in which they did not win a plurality of the vote.

Unlike countries such as Greece, there is no minimum vote share legally required to enter parliament, though with the current 37-seat makeup, a minimum vote share of 2.7% is needed.

Campaigns

Liberal Union

Unlike most other parties, the Liberal Union ruled out any proposed national lockdown, instead arguing that the closure of all flights leaving China could prevent the Coronavirus from spreading to Acre in the first place. When pressed on whether they would support a lockdown if the disease did spread to Acre however, the leader of the Liberal Union doubled down, arguing that a lockdown would constitute an infringement of liberty. Instead, the Union announced a guarantee to subsidise small businesses and support the creation of a vaccine.

Central to the party's campaign was their emphasis on the inclusion of all key religions in the institutions of Acre's government. They were the first party to support a two-flag solution, with one bearing Islamic imagery and another resembling the Israeli flag, but declared a support for the Islamic Emirate so long as rights were guaranteed for Jews. They also expressed support for a referendum if the Akkan government was pushed to announce their position on the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Conservative Party

The Conservative Party was quick to present itself as a moderate party for all Israelis. They lambasted the Labor Zionist Party as radical socialists, the Movement for the Homeland as dangerous nationalists, and the Liberal Union as uncommitted secularists. The party supported the replacing of Acre's flag with an Israeli alternative, as well as the creation of Rabbinical courts to exist alongside the country's Sharia courts. They strongly voiced their opposition to the Emir's Shura Council, though indicated they would not oppose the existence of the Emirate itself, so long as the Emir was sufficiently constrained politically.

The party also supported a national lockdown in the coming weeks, fearful that cases of Coronavirus would quickly accelerate once brought outside of China. The party accused the Liberal Union's firm opposition to any lockdown as endangering Akkan lives.

People's Democratic Union

The PDU leant into their Islamic base of support, expressing strong support for the Islamic Emirate and the creation of Sharia courts. The PDU was also the only party to support the Shura Council created a month earlier by the Emir. After the Liberal Union's proposal for joint recognition of Islam and Judaism, and of a two-flag solution, the PDU endorsed such proposals, so long as Islam retained a certain honorary status.

The PDU was also the sternest supporter of a national lockdown in Acre. Whereas most other parties advocated for a lockdown when and if cases began to increase, the PDU believed in a pre-emptive lockdown alongside a ban on all flights coming from China.

Labor Zionist Party

Hoping to capture the centre-left of the country, the LZP presented itself as a moderate social democratic party. They retained a rather conservative policy related to Islamic imagery however, agreeing with the Conservative Party that the Islamic flag should be replaced with an Israeli flag, and advocating for the removal of the Shura Council.

In an attempt to separate themselves from the Liberal Union, the party also endorsed a national lockdown in the coming weeks, though opposed calls to ban flights from China, labelling such proposals as Sinophobic, instead preferring mandatory two-week isolation periods and testing facilities.

Movement for the Homeland

The Movement for the Homeland presented itself as an unabashedly Zionist party. They were one of only two parties to completely reject the Emirate and its Islamic symbolism, instead supporting the creation of a secular presidential republic. During the election, the Movement refused to endorse any party who would not remove Islamic privileges established thus far within Acre.

Most of the Movement was also opposed to the idea of a national lockdown, though the party's leader indicated they would support a lockdown if it was clearly needed.

Peace & Equality Party

Founded shortly before the election, the Peace & Equality party sought to represent minority groups who, they felt, had been ignored by the other parties. The party did not seek to eliminate Islamic imagery within the Akkan government, or the Sharia courts, and instead supported some form of national recognition for the Christian and Druze populations, alongside stronger constitutional protections.

The party did not spend much time discussing a response to the Coronavirus spread, but pointed towards supporting some form of a national lockdown if it was needed.

Communist Party

The Communist Party was firmly opposed to the inclusion of any religious imagery within Acre, opposing not only its existent Islamic flag, but also the proposals to replace this with a flag containing the Star of David. They advocated for the dissolution of the Emirate, to be replaced with a secular form of government.

The party did not take a position on a proposed national lockdown, but did voice a concern that should a lockdown occur, workers would be penalised through the loss of work.

Opinion Polls

Pollster LU CS PDU LZP MH PEP CP Lead
Akkan Policy Institute 19% 30% 23% 19% 6% N/A 3% 7%
Liberal Union announce a two-flag solution
Akkan Policy Institute 24% 29% 23% 16% 5% N/A 3% 5%
Akkan Policy Institute 29% 25% 23% 14% 6% N/A 3% 4%
COVID-19 cases first reported in Israel
Akkan Policy Institute 32% 25% 21% 11% 8% N/A 3% 7%
Peace & Equality Party founded
Exit Poll 33% 22% 19% 11% 9% 3% 3% 11%
Final Result 35% 21% 19% 10% 9% 3% 3% 14%

Full Results

Opinion polls correctly predicted that the Liberal Union were likely to be the largest party after the election, as they had increasingly surged in the polls. Previously trailing the conservatives by seven points, the Liberal Union won with a fourteen point lead. They had also secured themselves as the major party for the Israeli left, with the Labor Zionist Party - previously neck and neck with the Liberal Union - winning just 10% of the vote, far behind.

Concurrently, the Conservative Party fell to second place, far behind the Liberal Union in vote share, and only very narrowly ahead of the Arab left-wing PDU. The party won a smaller percentage of the Russian-speaking population than they had hoped to, with the Movement for the Homeland surging in the latter weeks of the campaign.

Though the PDU won the vast majority of the Arab vote, comfortably placing them third in vote share, the late emergence of the Peace & Equality Party lost them a seat in Parliament, and dashed hopes of their becoming the second largest party ahead of the Conservatives.

As was predicted by opinion polls, the Communist Party won just enough votes to take up a single seat in Parliament.

Popular Vote
Liberal Union
  
35%
Conservative Party
  
21%
People's Democratic Union
  
19%
Liberal Zionist Party
  
10%
Movement for the Homeland
  
9%
Peace & Equality Party
  
3%
Communist Party
  
3%

Results by Party

Allocated constituencies by party allegiance

Liberal Union

The results were a spectacular win for the Liberal Union; trailing the Conservative Party by several points at the start of the campaign, they had created a fourteen point lead over them in the vote, winning 5 more seats and securing themselves as the largest party in Parliament by some margin; they had also staved off concerns that the Labor Zionist Party would squeeze the left-leaning vote out of the Liberal Union. The party took the results as a vote in favour of their laissez-faire policy on a national lockdown.

Conservative Party

The Conservative Party failed to win over moderate Israelis, most of whom voted for the Liberal Union, and also lost the vast majority of Russian-speaking Israelis to the Movement for the Homeland. A surprise to many was the loss of the small Haredi population in Acre to the Movement, shrinking the Conservative Party's base of support to just right-leaning non-Russian, non-Haredi Israelis. The Conservative Party's leader offered to form a government of national unity with the Liberal Union, citing the growth of the Coronavirus and the need to establish basic governmental institutions as strong reasons for such a proposal.

People's Democratic Union

The PDU won the vast majority of the Arab vote, including Arab Christians. The Emir himself congratulated the PDU, and argued that their strong showing demonstrated the unanimous support from the Arab community for the Islamic Emirate. The leader of the PDU proposed a confidence and supply arrangement with the Liberal Union rather than a coalition, due to their support for a national lockdown.

Labor Zionist Party

Many within the Labor Zionist Party were disappointed with their results, hoping to emerge as the second largest party and a clear voice for the Israeli left-wing. Many moderate social democrats voted for the Liberal Union, which some within the ZLP blamed on the democratic socialist contingent within the party. Despite their support for a national lockdown, the leader of the ZLP offered to enter into coalition government with the Liberal Union.

Movement for the Homeland

The Movement for the Homeland were very happy with their results, having managed to win over the majority of Russian-speaking Akkans, and to the surprise of many, Haredi Jews. The party was disappointed by the result of the Conservative Party however, which dashed the hopes of removing Islamic symbols within Acre.

Peace & Equality Party

The Peace & Equality Party, formed just before the election, managed - to the surprise of many - to win the vast majority of the Druze vote. The Party expressed its willingness to enter into coalition government with any party who would guarantee the rights of religious and ethnic minorities within Acre.

Communist Party

As was expected, the Communist Party won a sufficient number of votes to win a single seat in Parliament. Their support was mostly sourced from workers within Haifa's docklands, many of whom are members of far-left trade unions.

Government Formation

Partisan makeup of the Akkan Parliament

With the exception of the Movement for the Homeland and the Communist Party, all parties within Acre offered to enter into coalition government with the Liberal Union, who quickly emerged as the obvious leader of any government.

One option was a government of national unity with the Conservative Party, and potentially smaller Arab and Israeli parties; Conservatives particularly supported this proposal, believing it was necessary both to respond to the Coronavirus and to build trust in the institutions of the newly founded Akkan government.

Another was a left-wing coalition between the Liberal Union and the Labor Zionist Party. The PDU refused to enter into such a coalition due to their disagreement with the Liberal Union on a national lockdown, but indicated they would support such a government through confidence and supply.

Ultimately, the latter option won out, and after several days of negotiation, the PDU confirmed a confidence and supply arrangement with the Liberal Union. Though this agreement alone would give the Liberal Union a workable majority of two, the Union secured an agreement with the LZP, believing that their inclusion would appease Israelis fearful of a government propped up by an Arab party.