Israelis head to the polls next week for the fourth time in 2 years. Imagine having an election every 6 months in the US. The political ads would never cease and the rhetoric would never die down. Yet, that’s the scenario in Israel!
Just like American politics, there are Netanyahu-haters and Netanyahu-lovers. Those who like him like him a lot…those who don’t like him don’t like him at all. Plus, he has been Prime Minister since 2009 (after serving in that post from 1996-1999). One can see how folks who don’t like him are more than ready to get rid of him. Yet, enough people support him to win elections and, thus far, to somehow cobble together governments, even when it seems he is doomed. Netanyahu is known as a political Houdini because over-and-over he wins elections and forms governments when no one thinks he can.
In Israel, there are multiple political parties (sometimes as many as 20!), and each party has a “list” who will serve in the Knesset. Israeli’s vote for a party, not a person, and the 120 Knesset seats are divvied up based on the percentage of the votes won. In simplified terms, if a party gets 20% of the vote, they get 20% of the seats. No party has ever won a majority of seats, thus, coalitions must be built in order to gain a majority in the Knesset. Usually the leader of the winning party serves as Prime Minister, assuming he can cobble together a coalition. If no one is able to form a coalition of at least 61 seats, then another election is held. Likewise, if and when a party decides to leave the coalition, and the coalition falls below the 61 seat threshold, elections must be held. That is why Israel is headed for the polls a fourth time in 2 years!
Now, to the wild and wacky details! There are certain party leaders who have vowed never to enter a coalition with Netanyahu. Some won’t coalesce with other party leaders either, due to differences in political views (ie – liberal/conservative, etc).
For an inside look at parties and their candidates ahead of next week’s election…and to get a sense of just how crazy Israeli elections are…check out this article by Joel Rosenberg:
Keep an eye on the action, as Israel will need to elect someone strong enough to stand up to the Iranian threats!