Stalemate! Those have been the headlines in the news over the last several months, regarding the Israeli elections. Since March, 9 months ago, we have gone through 2 elections. That’s not all, though, as there is a good chance that in a couple of weeks time new elections will be called for the third time, sending us yet again to the polls, this time in March 2020.
How did this crazy situation come to be?
Israel has a parliamentary system, which includes a dozen political parties. When elections take place (ideally every 4 years), the person who heads the largest party will receive the right to create a coalition. This person will then turn to the other political parties in order to cobble together common denominators that will create the desired coalition. Since the Knesset (parliament) consists of 120 seats, the coalition naturally needs the minimum of 61 seats. Since 2009, Benjamin Netanyahu has been the chairman of the Likud party. The Likud party has usually received the most votes, and as such has headed the coalitions, and Netanyahu has been our Prime Minister.
After the elections last March, the Likud party and Netanyahu won again. The difference this time was, they didn’t succeed in creating a coalition. Netanyahu didn’t succeed in getting a minimum of 61 Members of Parliament. This let to a second round of elections last September. The results of the September elections were similar to the March elections. Again, Netanyahu did not succeed in creating a coalition. This time, the political party called ‘Blue & White’, led by Benny Gantz, actually finished slightly ahead of Bibi’s Likud. When Gantz was given the opportunity to create a coalition, he also failed. We are now in ‘Hail Mary’ time. This basically means that any member of parliament that succeeds in getting 61 Members of Parliament to give him a vote of confidence, can create a coalition.
To add onto all of this, last week the Attorney General announced his intent to indict Netanyahu for bribery, fraud & breach of trust. According to the law, a sitting Prime Minister can remain in office until a court of law finds him guilty. Despite this, the indictment puts the whole political sphere in Israel into that much more of a mess right now.
So what’s next? Chances are that in a couple of weeks our government is going to call for yet another round of elections. In addition, it seems like the Likud party will have inner elections within a few weeks (for the first time since 2014). This will bring about challengers to Netanyahu’s reign in the Likud. His main challenger is Gideon Sa’ar, a veteran politician and former Minister of Education. What will happen from there? Who will win? How will this stalemate end? Well, that’s anyone’s guess..