Elections in Israel: Five polls in four years: What’s wrong with Israeli politics? | Jobi Cool


Stop us if you’ve heard this one before: On Tuesday, Israelis go to the polls to elect a new Knesset, or parliament. This is the fifth time in less than four years that voters have voted. Holding elections that are often bound to raise questions. Here are some answers.

Israel has a parliament made up of several parties – none of which have ever received enough votes on their own to secure a majority of seats. That means parties must join forces to form a coalition and reach the 61 seats needed to form a ruling government. Those coalitions can also be crazy – lose the support of one party, or sometimes even one MP, and you’ve lost the majority.

The other factor is Benjamin Netanyahu. He served as prime minister longer than anyone in Israel’s history, is in the middle of a corruption trial, and is generally polarizing. Some top centre-right politicians who agree with him ideologically refuse to work with him for personal or political reasons.

That made it difficult for him to build a lasting governing majority after the previous four elections, and last year his opponents managed to assemble an unprecedented coalition of parties from across the political spectrum to keep him out of power. But that coalition only held together for about a year and a quarter before its leaders, Yair Lapid and Naftali Bennett, backed down and called for new elections.

Lapid took over as prime minister in the last months of his government this year.

Netanyahu’s center-right Likud party will almost certainly become the largest party in the Knesset after Tuesday’s vote, according to polls. They will probably win about 30 parliamentary seats, a quarter of the total, suggests a summary of polls from Haaretz, for example.

Incumbent Prime Minister Yair Lapid will be hoping that his centrist Yesh Atid party will come in a strong second place.

The man he partnered with to assemble the last government, Naftali Bennett, is not running this time; his party has split and faces possible electoral annihilation.

Defense Secretary Benny Gantz is aiming for a strong showing at the head of a new party called National Unity, the successor to his Blue and White party, which now includes Bennett’s former ally Gideon Saar and former Israel Defense Forces general Gabi Eisenkot. political debut.

A far-right coalition called the Religious Zionist Party, led by Bezalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben Gvir, may be the largest far-right party ever to sit in the Knesset.

On the other hand, the once-mighty Labor Party and its predecessors, which ruled Israel essentially as a one-party state for its first 30 years under David Ben-Gurion and his successors, are a shadow of their former selves and are predicted. winning only a few seats.

Israel is a parliamentary democracy where people vote for the party they support. Each party that receives at least 3.25% of the vote receives a certain number of seats based on a percentage of the total number of votes it received.

The 3.25% threshold is intended to keep very small parties out of parliament, an attempt to facilitate the formation of governing coalitions.

Israel has previously experimented with electing the prime minister directly, separate from the Knesset, the way the US elects the president and parliament separately. It proved unmanageable and the country returned to traditional parliamentary elections.

Final polls suggest Netanyahu’s party and its potential allies are hovering around a knife-edge of 60 seats, and the drama of election night will be whether the former prime minister scrapes by.

If his party wins a clear majority, his way to build a government is clear and he will return to power.

If the Netanyahu coalition falls below 61 seats, matters are more complicated. Netanyahu would still likely get the first chance to form a government if his Likud party is the largest in the Knesset, which could lead to days or weeks of negotiations that go nowhere.

Netanyahu speaks to supporters in a converted truck at a campaign event this month.

Incumbent Prime Minister Lapid could then have a chance to try to form a government, provided his Yesh Atid party is the second largest. But his outgoing government included – for the first time in Israel’s history – an Arab party that has since splintered into smaller parties that are not allowed to join another Israeli government (even if he invites them, which is not certain.)

That could mean no one can build a majority government, raising the possibility of … more elections. While party talks are ongoing and until a new government is formed, Lapid remains as interim prime minister.

Israelis are concerned about many of the same issues that people around the world are – especially the cost of living.

They are also always focused on safety. In the region, Iran’s nuclear ambitions and support for militant groups are always a concern, and more locally, violence has been high this year between Israel and the Palestinians.

Some constituencies have their own special concerns, such as extremist representatives, who want state support for their institutions and exemptions from military service; and religious Zionists, who want support for settlements in the West Bank.

But the elections in Israel these days are overwhelmingly about one issue and one person: Benjamin Netanyahu.

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