Liberal Union (Acre)
|Founded||29 January 2020|
|Ideology|| • Big tent |
• Social liberalism
• One-state solution
• Social democracy
• Economic liberalism
The Liberal Union is a big tent political party in the Islamic Emirate of Acre. It is officially non-confessional, though sources most of its support from middle class Israeli Akkans. The party includes both left-leaning and right-leaning liberals, as well as a large centrist caucus. Between February and October of 2020, the Liberal Union was the largest party in government, led by its founder Joseph Cohen; since then, the party has been in opposition.
Joseph Cohen (January 2020-December 2020)
As Prime Minister
The Liberal Union was founded by Joseph Cohen on the 29th of January 2020, shortly before the February 2020 general election. In this short period, Cohen was able to lead his party to victory, from trailing the Conservative Party by 7 points to winning the election with 35%, 14 points ahead of the Conservatives. Cohen worked to portray the Liberal Union as a centrist big tent party, open to both left-leaning and right-leaning liberals.
Two major policy stances stand out during Cohen's tenure - the solidifying of Acre's basic governmental institutions, and his opposition to a lockdown during the Coronavirus pandemic. Cohen was instrumental in establishing the two-flag, two-religion consensus, which involved the creation of a second flag bearing the Star of David, and the official recognition of both Islam and Judaism in the state's constitution. The Liberal Union was also vital in creating broad (though not total) acceptance of the Akkan Emirate, the Sharia and Rabbinical courts, and even the controversial Shura Council. Often overlooked is the role of the party in engraining the principle of parliamentary supremacy within Acre's government whereby other branches of government were to be subordinate to the Akkan Parliament.
Cohen however attracted great controversy through his opposition to any form of a national lockdown during the Coronavirus pandemic. This stance had been laid out during the February election, however as the number of cases began to increase in Acre, and after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced a national lockdown, many expected the Liberal Union to relent; Cohen however continued to resist, considering any form of lockdown to be an instance of "government overreach".
By late April, the tension reached a head, with the People's Democratic Union threatening to revoke their confidence and supply arrangement if Cohen did not schedule a vote on endorsing the lockdown. Cohen relented, however withdrew the government's support for the lockdown a month later, and also opposed a second lockdown announced by Netanyahu in September.
This opposition to a lockdown is usually given as an explanation for why the Liberal Union lost the October 2020 general election. The party's vote share declined by 8%, causing a loss of three seats. The Conservative Party was able to form a minority coalition government with the Labor Zionist Party (who had previously been in coalition government with the Liberal Union) and the Movement for the Homeland.
As Leader of the Opposition
The Liberal Union remained the second largest party in Parliament, and so Cohen became Leader of the Opposition. On November the 10th, Prime Minister Ben Adelman of the Conservatives announced articles of censure against Joseph Cohen and several other Liberal Union figures, for their involvement in opposing a national lockdown. Cohen was lambasted for opposing both of Netanyahu's lockdowns. It was also revealed that the Labor Zionist Party had threatened privately to withdraw their support for the Liberal Union, around the same time the PDU threatened to end their confidence and supply arrangement. Cohen was portrayed both as an ineffective and a vain politician, who had stuck far too rigidly to principles and clung onto power rather than calling an election to test his approach's popularity.
Ultimately, Parliament voted by 23-11 to censure Joseph Cohen. Some accused the entire procedure of being a piece of "political theatre", as the Labor Zionist Party escaped without scrutiny despite their presence in the Cohen administration. Nevertheless, the event hurt Cohen's popularity even further, causing a substantial dip in polls.
On November the 18th, a member of the Peace & Equality Party accused Cohen of courting the party for a potential vote of no confidence against the Adelman government. This was however pre-empted by the government, who announced a vote of confidence which was held on the 25th. Many suspected Cohen would encourage one or two Liberal Union MPs to abstain, fearful of losing an election by a large margin. This was not the case however, and the government lost the vote by 19-18, triggering the December 2020 general election.
Michelle Levin (December 2020 - present)
The Liberal Union is one of Acre's two large 'big tent' parties (alongside the right-leaning Conservative Party) and one of two 'non-confessional' parties (alongside the far-left Communist Party), but in practice most supporters are Israeli. Views range from the centre-left to the centre-right, though there is broad consensus on social issues such as gay marriage, with disagreement focused on economic issues.
As its name indicates, the Liberal Union places itself comfortably within the liberal movement. In particular, it represents those broadly supportive of the economic and social consensus which has developed since the Second World War, wherein the global economy is based on free enterprise and trade, while states provide many public goods such as healthcare alongside a robust welfare net. The party is also supportive of the norms and values of liberal democracy, and seeks to champion democratic ideals. Parties similar to the Liberal Union include the British Liberal Democrats and the French La République En Marche!.
A small 'orange' wing of the party is more closely associated with economic liberalism; however, though it generally advocates for a reduction in taxes and deregulation, this wing continues to broadly support the various welfarist institutions championed by the rest of the party. The small number of Akkans who may self-identify as neoliberals tend to join the Conservative Party.
The Liberal Union is perhaps the most socially liberal party in Acre, advocating for causes such as LGBT rights, abortion rights and cannabis legalisation. During its time in government after the February 2020 election, the Liberal Union was central to creating broad agreement on the basic institutions of government in Acre. This consensus-based approach involved the creation of a second flag bearing the Star of David, the formal recognition of both Islam and Judaism in the state's constitution, the creation of Rabbinical courts to exist alongside Acre's Sharia courts, and the emergence of parliamentary supremacy as the principle underpinning Acre's entire governmental system.
The Liberal Union does not purport to represent only one confession in Acre, acting as a broad church for all liberals regardless of their ethnic or religious background. Despite this official policy, almost all of the Union's support is sourced from (mostly middle-class) Israeli Jewish neighbourhoods.
The Liberal Union supports a confederal approach based on the experience of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Most domestic affairs would be handled by separate legislatures and legal systems, with both the Israeli and Palestinian governments capable of raising taxes, passing laws and managing public services. Internal security would also be divided, but external security and intelligence would be handled by a single authority, and the state would send a single delegation to entities like the United Nations. The Liberal Union suggests that this is the only way to guarantee security, the interests of Israeli settlements, and to maintain easy access for Israelis and Palestinians to important holy sites and places of work. Some members support the creation of a third separate governmental system for Gaza, and even potentially a fourth for Acre itself.
Most of the Union's support base is located in the more affluent parts of Haifa on the slopes of Mount Carmel. In general, voters for the Union are younger, middle class, Israeli, and suburban. Smaller pockets of support also exist in the neighbourhoods of Kiryat Ata, Kiryat Bialik and parts of Acre City, and the city of Nahariya is constested by all three major Israeli parties.
|Election year||Leader||%||+/-||seats won||+/-||Government|
|February 2020||Joseph Cohen||35%||N/A||N/A||in coalition government|
|October 2020||Joseph Cohen||27%||▼ 8%||▼ 3||in opposition|
|December 2020||Joseph Cohen||17%||▼ 10%||▼ 4||in opposition|
|April 2021||Michelle Levin||24%||▲ 7%||▲ 3||in coalition government|
Timeline of Party Leaders
|Name||Term start||Term end||Notes|
|Joseph Cohen||29 January 2020||2 December 2020|
|Michelle Levin||2 December 2020||Incumbent|
Social Democratic Caucus
The social democratic 'yellow' wing of the party are more sympathetic to state involvement in the economy. Members generally support raising the minimum wage, collective bargaining agreements, cooperatives and a strong welfare state. Unlike other leftist parties in Acre however, the social democrats tend to oppose any nationalisation of key industries.
The centrist caucus is a broad camp who advocate a pragmatic approach to economic policy. The centrist wing often envisages their role as a moderating one when the Liberal Union enters into a coalition government. The caucus also places a greater emphasis on negative rights, supporting for instance an "inalienable right to free speech". This was seen clearly through Joseph Cohen's opposition to a national lockdown during the Coronavirus pandemic, concerned about government overreach.
Economic Liberal Caucus
The economic liberal caucus is a comparatively small wing of the party, largely made up of economically right-leaning but socially liberal individuals unwilling to join the conservative party. This 'orange' wing generally prefers a deregulatory approach to the economy, favours lowering taxes on the working and middle classes, and promotes joint initiatives between the state and private businesses in welfare programs.