Moshe Kahlon, head of the center Kulanu party, may steal the show as Israelis go to the polls Tuesday in a parliamentary election which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party is struggling to win. Israeli
It is widely believed that Kahlon, whose Kulanu is predicted to gain around 10 seats in the new parliament, will be a deciding factor in the establishment of a ruling coalition, either by the Likud or by the opposition center-left Zionist Union.
Kahlon was born in 1960 to a family of Libyan origin in a poor neighborhood of Hadera in northern Israel.
He had been a parliamentarian of the Likud party since 2003, until he was appointed as the communications minister in March 2009.
Kahlon was credited with a reform in the cellular market, which improved the competition in the cellular providers market by introducing more players to the arena, and significantly lowering the costs Israelis were paying over their mobile phones.
This reform became a symbol of policy steps fighting the high costs of living and Kahlon became a synonym to a reformer who is not afraid to take on the major players in the Israeli economy.
Kahlon quit the Likud party at the height of his success in October 2012. In November 2014, he announced the establishment of the center Kulanu (all of us) party.
Unlike righwing parties which campaign heavily on security-diplomatic issues, Kahlon focuses his party on socio-economic woes ordinary Israelis are facing, such as the soaring costs of living, the widening gaps between rich and poor and a housing crisis.
He also seeks to make the party a home for Sephardic Jews who are disappointed by the Likud party for its failure to address their economic distress.
Sephardic Jews are Jews like Kahlon of Middle East origin, who normally support Likud or the religious party Shas.
According to political pundit and commentator Mazal Mualem, Kahlon’s voters “come from the social bracket that finds it difficult to make ends meet” and look at him as “their present-day savior.”
“Kahlon, a staunch advocate of the social cause has a fair chance of winning over Likud and Shas party voters,” she explains, adding that “these two parties (Likud and Shas) are mired in deep internal crisis and their voters are looking for a new home.”
With growing support, it seems clear that Kulanu would tip the scale in the elections. His support will be pivotal to either Netanyahu or Herzog in their post-election hunt for coalition partners.
“Kahlon will certainly be a force to be reckoned with in the upcoming election,” Dr. Revital Amiran, a political science researcher told Xinhua.
“He’s not associated with corruption, he is refreshing and speaks on the issues that bother people most and will take the center stage in these elections — socio-economic issues, but he is from the Likud and therefore is an alternative to voters of the Labor party, also presenting a socio-economic agenda but is more identified with the Israeli political left,” she added.
Kahlon is transgressing the old divide of the left and the right, bringing to the front economic causes that bind people of different walks and ideologies, she said.
In interviews, Kahlon said he would support a social government that would follow through on his economic reforms as he had done with his cellular market reform. Enditem

Source: Xinhua

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