YERUSA ALE EU (AP) – Israel is holding its fourth election in two years, with nearly 6.6 million people voting in favor of the 24th Knesset or parliament. It is widely seen as a referendum on one issue, with voters almost equally divided over whether Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should stay in power for long.
Here’s a closer look at what to expect.
The March 23 vote is Israel’s fourth parliamentary election in two years. The government of national unity, formed in May 2020 by Netanyahu’s rival’s opponent Benny Gants, collapsed in December after seven months of fierce fighting. Both had signed a power-sharing deal that would see Gantz as prime minister in November 2021, but parliament was automatically dissolved after a sham government failed to pass a bill within the timeframe set by law.
Netanyahu, who has been prime minister since 2009, is striving for a decisive victory, promising to form a “full-fledged” government backed by his traditional ultra-Orthodox allies and hardline nationalists. The longtime leader has campaigned aggressively as Israel’s main vaccine, claiming the country’s overwhelming majority of the adult population for its successful efforts to vaccinate against the coronavirus.
He is opposed by the Free Coalition of Opposition Parties, disgruntled former lieutenants who want to oust him. Opposition leader Yair Lapid is expected to lead the Knesset, the largest of the parties, and has been Netanyahu’s main rival in the last week of his campaign. But his potential coalition partners in the anti-Netanyahu camp come from all over the political spectrum, treating only the Prime Minister with contempt. It may be impossible to unite them in government.
Netanyahu refused to resign when he was tried on charges of fraud, breach of trust and bribery. He was indicted in late 2019, and the trial began shortly after the inauguration of his unity government last May. He denied any wrongdoing, saying that he was a victim of witch-hunts by the police and the prosecutor’s office.
Nine protesters have been protesting in front of his residence in Jerusalem every day for the past nine months, calling for his resignation. While voters may consider other issues, such as the economy, the conflict with the Palestinians, religion, the state, and relations with US-Jewish Judaism, this election is, above all, a referendum on Netanyahu’s governance and governing capacity last year. epidemic
In the Knesset, all 120 seats in the Israeli parliament are in jeopardy. 38 parties have been nominated, but only a handful are expected to pass the 3.25% threshold required to win at least four seats in parliament. These parties include the Likud constituency, Lapid’s Yesh Atid և The New Hope party, founded by a former Netanyahu believer who shares his hardline ideology but despises the authoritarian rule of his government. Style: There are also medium-sized stops, such as the ultra-orthodox Shas և United Torah Judaism parties, the joint list of Arab parties, the constellation of smaller parties և thorough և often the range of eccentric factions that have little chance of taking place.
DEFENSE AND CONTRARY
Compared to the United States, Israel often has a relatively high voter turnout. Election Day is a national holiday, an event aimed at people’s participation.
The turnout in the last three elections rose from 67.9% in April 2019 to 71% in March 2020. But in this fourth election cycle, voter fatigue is high, with many voters reportedly undecided in the days leading up to the election.
No Israeli party has ever won a clear majority in parliament, forcing larger parties to form ruling coalitions with smaller allies.
The final count is expected to take longer than usual, perhaps up to a week, due to the unusual number of missing ballots and the start of the Passover holiday next Sunday, which is usually a business day. Unlike in previous elections, people with coronavirus or quarantine will vote in a “two-way envelope” with Israeli diplomats, soldiers and prisoners abroad. They take longer to count because they are sent to Jerusalem for a gathering.
After the election, the Israeli president will meet with party leaders to select the party he considers most capable of forming a coalition. That party, which is usually but not always the largest faction, has four weeks to form a coalition. The new government will be given a four-year term, but disagreements between coalition parties often lead to snap elections.
Polls released on the eve of Tuesday’s vote show that Netanyahu’s pro-Netanyahu alliances are running around the neck, albeit without a clear majority. The tough nationalist Emina party has not promised to join any camp, and its alliance with the parties could be decisive.
But if neither side manages to form a coalition, the two-year-old political crisis could lead to a fifth election.
Follow Ilan Ben Zion on Twitter: https://twitter.com/IlanBenZion