Never a Dull Moment in Israeli Politics

With seemingly all focus turned toward the US mid-term elections, there is a very important election happening in Israel a week prior to American elections. On November 1, Israelis go to the polls for the fifth time in 4 years to elect a Prime Minister and reset the Knesset (Israel’s parliament).

In Israel ballots are cast for parties, not people. The number of votes determine how many mandates each party has to seat members of the Knesset. With 8 or more parties almost always on the ballot, there is never a majority, which would put the winner of the largest party in the Prime Minister’s office. Instead, once ballots are cast and mandates determined, it is up to the leader of the winning party to cobble together a coalition of other parties to reach the necessary 61 seat majority.

This year, Benjamin Netanyahu is staging a comeback. Though his Likud party garnered the most votes in the previous 4 elections, he was not able to get enough parties to join the coalition and form a stable government. Israeli polls indicate Likud will again land the most mandates, and Netanyahu is campaigning hard to “get out the vote” in order to build enough support to win.

But, an interesting party has joined the fray this year: Religious Zionism. Polling indicates they are the third largest party in the election, and likely a potential “king-maker” for Netanyahu. But, should Netanyahu invite them into the coalition? That is the big question. Why? Because Religious Zionism is a radical right-wing party, often stating opposition to the rights of Arabs and Palestinians. Learn more about the electoral conundrum here:

Buckle up! We are in for a wild ride leading up to and following two elections that will have worldwide impact. Will there be any degree of “righting the ship” in either country, or will one or both turn even more radical than they already are? And what drama will play out as we approach these critical elections?

Enjoy the ride!

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