Published On: Thu, Mar 5th, 2015

Care to Bet on Israel’s Elections? Guess Who’s Leading by 80%…

Predict is asking its visitors these days: Will Benjamin Netanyahu win another term as prime minister of Israel?

Benjamin Netanyahu

PredictIt is a new, real-money site, that banks on your knowledge of political and financial events by letting you make and trade predictions.

A project of Victoria University of Wellington, PredictIt is set up to research the potential value of prediction markets in understanding the future.

“Our job is to study the wisdom of the crowd, yours is to make your most educated prediction, ” is their somewhat wordy slogan.

The way it works is, you open an account, and start gambling on the chances that a particular event will or will not take place. You choose Yes or No by buying “shares” in one of the predictions. Related predictions are grouped as a Market.

And so, Predict is asking its visitors these days: Will Benjamin Netanyahu win another term as prime minister of Israel? And the resounding response—80 percent—expect him to win. It’ll cost you at least 80 cents to buy a piece of this bet, while a No outcome costs only a minimum of 23 cents.

Incidentally, the seriousness of this website may be put in question in light of the fact that they set the bidding to end May 31 — a bit of an issue, seeing as the elections in Israel will take place March 17.

The website Hypermind, touting the “Collective Intelligence of the Future, ” poses a more complex riddle: Will Benjamin Netanyahu still be Prime Minister of Israel on June 1st, 2015?

The prime minister is ahead here, 70 to 30.

As to political polls, the website Walla.co.il polled 952 Israelis, 152 of them Arabs, on their favorite for prime minister this time, and Netanyahu came ahead of his chief rival, Itzhak Herzog, 44-35. That’s not 80 percent, or even 70 percent, but in a winner take all game, it’s enough.

Mind you, no one is being elected directly for the post, and it isn’t guaranteed that the head of the party with the highest number of seats will necessarily be called on by the president to build Israel’s next coalition.

The president consults with all the parties who make it into the new Knesset, and polls them for their favorite candidate to build a coalition government. He appoints the man with the best chance to cobble together 61 seats out of 120.

As of Thursday morning, most of the polls in Israel show Likud and Labor neck-and-neck, with 23 seats each, give or take a seat. But when you count the rest of the parties, it is more likely that Netanyahu will be able to put together a right-leaning coalition than Herzog come up with 61 left-leaning MKs.

If Labor wins 24 seats, as some polls predict, it will likely run with Meretz (6), but then where will it find 31 more MKs? If he includes the united Arab party (12), he will almost automatically be excluding many other potential partners from the center parties. He may strike a silent-partnership deal with the Arabs, whereby—in return for some concessions and promises—they will promise their support to his coalition without actually holding ministerial portfolios.

The vote takes place Tuesday, March 17.

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