On the Eve of Israel's Election, Voters Poised to Choose Between a Leader and Ongoing Uncertainty
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JERUSALEM, Israel –Voters go to the polls in Israel Tuesday for their fifth election in less than four years. Surveys show it’s possible the deadlock will continue, and the question on the minds of both Israeli citizens and their leaders is what it will take to break the cycle of perpetual elections.
In most elections, the issues vary from the economy to national security. In this cycle, however, it's also the challenge of forming a stable government to prevent yet another early election.
CBN News Senior Editor John Waage noted, “Last election, as we saw, the party that finished first didn’t end up with the prime minister’s office.” That was in May of 2021, when political parties from the left and the right joined together against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“The right has really won in every (recent) election,” Waage said.“ The question is, who in the coalition is going to side with someone like Netanyahu and who isn't?”
Israelis vote for parties, not candidates. This time, more than 35 parties are competing for 120 Knesset seats.
Gilad Malach, director of the Ultra-Orthodox in Israel Program for the Israel Democracy Institute, explained that “(in) every election there are at least 10 parties that pass the threshold.”
He was referring to the rule that to join the Knesset, a party must receive 3.25 percent of the votes. The leader of the party winning the most seats usually is given the first chance to form a majority coalition of 61 seats.
Malach said the consistent issue during the past four years has been Netanyahu himself.
“It’s not even right-wingers and left-wingers or center-left-wingers. It’s supporting Netanyahu or against Netanyahu,” he explained.
Waage says that while Netanyahu may have been the central issue for the past four years, this time other issues are emerging as well. He listed some of them.
“The fact that (current Prime Minister) Yair Lapid called for a two-state solution in front of the United Nations; the fact that (the Israeli government) just formed a gas deal with Lebanon, and many Israelis might think that they got the short end of that bargain; the violence that we've seen crop up in Judea and Samaria, the West Bank.”
According to voting patterns, Israelis mostly vote conservative. So, why the constant division?
“One group is banning the other group,” Malach said. “Both groups are banning the other group. So, there are not a lot of options to build the government,” he added.
The final polls are mixed, according to Waage. In two of the polls they showed Netanyahu having enough to build a coalition government, and in two or three others he falls just one seat short.
Since 1988, no government has finished its four-year terms, and based on recent results, that pattern will likely not be broken any time soon
“The system sometimes reflects society,” Malach explained. “Unless we see maybe a new leader, that will have charisma and ability to take some voters from the other side, we will continue in this difficult situation, even for the next coming years.”
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