Lessons for the 'Table of Six' from Israel

Political alliances promise not only inclusivity and consensus, but also vulnerability. The strategy of the Table of Six to consolidate itself against these pressures following the election will show whether it will share a common fate with the 36th Israeli government.

File photo: Israelis wave national flags at a rally outside the Knesset in Jerusalem on Feb 13, 2023.

Can Türe*

In June 2021, a broad coalition came together to end the twelve-year-long rule of Netanyahu, forming possibly the most ideologically diverse government in Israeli history. United in opposing Netanyahu, the coalition succeeded in forming a government with a narrow majority. The parties, which had come together to oust the far-right prime minister from office, contained almost all elements of the political spectrum, from right to left, in the country: the left-leaning Meretz and Labor Parties, Naftali Bennett's Yamina Party, the center-right parties of Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid, who would serve as prime minister in rotation with Bennet, New Hope headed by Gideon Sa'ar, a former member of  Netanyahu’s Likud, Arab Party Ra’am taking part in a government for the first time in Israeli history and Yisrael Beiteinu of Avigdor Lieberman, who only a few years back suggested Arabs be beheaded.

All this is very familiar to Turkish voters these days.


Initially, all parties joined forces to keep the common enemy, Netanyahu, out of power, putting their own political agendas aside for a while. Each party, from right to left, has agreed to make concessions to its own "cause". During its short term, the eight-party coalition brought temporary relief to the country tired of Netanyahu's extreme policies. A conciliatory budget was drawn up and passed through the Knesset, pressure on civil society, the judiciary and the Arab minority eased, relations with long-neglected countries in the region improved, and a limited and indirect dialogue was established with the Palestinian National Authority.

However, over time, some partners of the coalition grew affected by the opposition's pressure and intimidation policy. Netanyahu accused all parties of collaborating with terrorism due to the presence of Ra'am, the Arab list, from whom he sought support to form the previous government as later revealed. In particular, the right-wing partners of the coalition were accused of treason to national and religious values.

Eventually, some MPs of Yamina announced that they withdrew their support for the government. It was followed by the Arab list Ra'am weakening the coalition even further on the grounds of the violence in Al-Aqsa. The government lost the majority in the parliament and its legislative power. Gradually declining votes of each party, the common agenda being overshadowed by narrow party concerns paved the way to the end of the coalition government.

“The ideological differences among the coalition parties were so deep that the anti-Netanyahu stance was not enough to hold these dissimilar parties together” says Dr. Hay Eytan Cohen Yanarocak, a Turkey expert at the Tel Aviv University's Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies.


Netanyahu had not been able to secure the majority to form the government in the past two elections, and was disreputable by an ongoing prosecution for bribery, fraud and breach of faith. Despite the disadvantages, he came back much stronger in the next election and formed the most extreme far-right government in the country's history along with his partners. The left collapsed, with one of the two largest left parties failing to cross the electoral threshold, while the other, the Labor Party, lost a large number of votes. Moreover, not only the ruling bloc, but also the opposition shifted rightwards. It is claimed that there are still many MPs in the Israeli parliament, who support Netanyahu's policies even though they are against himself.

As soon as the new government took office, it started to implement the policies that the Israeli far-right had long dreamed of. Under the guise of judicial reform, it introduced a bill that includes changes undermining the separation of powers, such as reducing the authority of the Supreme Court, invalidating the decisions of the court with only an absolute majority of the parliament, increasing the authority of the government in the appointment of high rank judges. The Israeli public has been rocked for months by the bill and mass protests that burst against it.

For Dr. Cohen Yanarocak, the most important reason for Netanyahu’s stronger comeback was that Bennett's party, one of the coalition partners, was not able to pass the electoral threshold and its constituency came to support Netanyahu. “Netanyahu made a coalition with the ultra-religious and far-right bloc. In the past, centrist parties took part in coalitions with Netanyahu. However, these parties decided not to join Netanyahu's coalition. That left Netanyahu only with these extremist parties. Therefore, he gave the green light to the controversial judicial reform in order to satisfy these parties and also to satisfy people like the Minister of Justice, Yariv Levin, within his own party.”


This 18-month-long experience in Israeli politics and its aftermath hold great lessons for the upcoming Turkish presidential and parliamentary elections and a possible opposition victory. Collaborating for more than one and a half years, of course, the Table of Six is more than only a "Kick out Erdoğan" alliance. The parties at the table have achieved a certain level of consensus over principles. All parties declared the return to the parliamentary system as the common goal. Moreover, they agreed on the Common Policies Memorandum consisting of thousands of articles that envisions an extensive reform from public administration, the judiciary, foreign policy to economic policies. The table is based on a shared vision of a new system rather than only opposing the government as in Israel.

Yet, last month’s Meral Akşener crisis, the method (or lack thereof) of designating the presidential candidate, the derisive public statements between CHP and IYI Party executives against each other, the controversy around the remarks of IYI Party's Ümit Özlale about the Istanbul Convention, still a divisive issue among the six parties, hints us a lot about the fragilities of the table.

Regardless of the election result, the idea that the common policies adopted by the parties will relieve the deadlock in the economic and political system is a common view among voters who have given up hope on Erdoğan. Therefore, the program is a need by itself regardless of the survival of the table. However, it is not difficult to predict that the table will face difficult challenges, if they win the election.

First of all, the yet-unpredictable parliamentary distribution will always pose a pressure on the opposition. Unless they adopt efficient internal communication and decision-making mechanisms, the cabinet forming and the distribution of ministries carry perils of turning into a distressing episode. Contradictions surfaced even before a possible victory may become a nightmare when it comes to sharing the power. The cost of a disintegration within the Table of Six would not be as light as a two-day wave of nation-wide nail-biting thrill that arose when Akşener quit the table.

This scenario, for Dr. Cohen Yanarocak, is very likely: “After months and months, echoing the dissolution of “the anti-Netanyahu glue” in Israel, it is very likely that these ideologically different parties will not stick to the “anti-Erdoğan glue.” Still, in case of an opposition win, Dr. Cohen Yanarocak believes that the stability of the table will be contingent on the distribution of parliament seats and how long the CHP will be loyal to its small partners as well as its political harmony with the IYI Party.


A possible instability among the six parties in power may have profound consequences for the country. In light of the aftermath of the Bennett-Lapid government’s fall in Israel, as well as the electoral alliances established by the AKP, these consequences are not difficult to predict: If strengthened by the stumble of the opposition, the AKP will not hesitate to give what its allies, YRP and Hüda Par, want. These marginal parties have long demanded the abolition of 6284, the law protecting women against male violence, the removal of coeducation, and the legalization of religious marriage.

Dr. Cohen Yanarocak believes that although he is in dire straits due to the country's collapsed economy, Erdoğan will reach the peak of his political power and be able to gradually implement his promises. He adds: "In that case, Turkey may face a brain drain like never before.” 

Regardless of the country, political alliances promise not only inclusivity and consensus, but also vulnerability in regions such as the Middle East, where ideology-driven voting behavior is common. External pressures intensify domestic contradictions of alliances and eventually bring them to the breaking point. The strategy of the Table of Six to consolidate itself against these pressures following the election will show whether it will share a common fate with the 36th Israeli government.

*Can Türe is an Istanbul-based independent journalist. He covers issues related to Middle East affairs, specifically Turkish media and politics, digital network cultures and the new media environment.