September 17, 2019 12:00 AM NPT
Israelis vote for parties, not individual candidates, and 32 parties are competing at the ballot box. The more votes a party gets, the more seats it wins in Israel’s 120-seat parliament, the Knesset. On September 17, 2019, Israel will hold the second election in five months. To secure Knesset representation, a party needs to receive at least 3.25% of the votes. Opinion polls project that there will be as many as ten parties represented in the next Knesset.
It’s not the party which wins the most votes or seats that will lead the next government. It’s the party which can pull together a viable coalition. Since Israel’s founding in 1948, no political party has ever won a majority of Knesset seats. Following the vote in April, Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Likud tied with the Blue and White alliance of Benny Gantz, both winning 35 seats. Israeli President Rivlin tasked Netanyahu with forming a government.
A two-month negotiation process ensued between Likud and other right-leaning political parties, including ultra-Orthodox parties and the Yisrael Beiteinu party led by Avigdor Lieberman. Lieberman’s primary demand was the passage of a law that would increase the number of ultra-Orthodox men drafted into the military, a demand that the ultra-Orthodox parties opposed. This stalemate prevented Netanyahu from forming a government coalition and led the Knesset to vote for new elections.