Thursday, June 30

Israelis vote in fourth national election in two years | Israel


Israelis are voting in their fourth national election in two years, the result of an unprecedented political deadlock that has seen the country’s oldest leader, Benjamin Netanyahu, face multiple rivals.

This time, the prime minister hopes that voters will give him credit for a vaccination campaign against the global coronavirus that has seen Israel reopen shops, bars and restaurants at the same time. pushing down infection rates.

“We are the world champions in handling the coronavirus,” Netanyahu told the crowd in the lead-up to the vote.

His right-wing nationalist Likud party is still ahead in the polls and is expected to win between 30 and 32 seats in the 120-seat parliament, the Knesset, far more than any other party. However, the 71-year-old leader would still need to negotiate a coalition with smaller parties to form a 61-seat majority government.

Netanyahu’s preferred path to victory would be what is called a “full-right government,” made up of extremist nationalist, hard-line religious and far-right parties.

Allies of ultra-Orthodox Jewish factions would be relied upon for support, such as Aryeh Deri, who said sunday that it was not the “natural place” for a woman to be a candidate in the party he leads, Shas.

The prime minister may also need the backing of a group seen as even more extreme: an alliance called Religious Zionism, which includes politicians who have expressed anti-gay views and I want to expel Arab “disloyal” of the state.

Israel’s most prominent left-leaning newspaper, Haaretz, has called this potential outcome would be a “nightmare” for “anyone other than a nationalist extremist who believes in Jewish supremacy.”

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While most Israelis say they want Netanyahu out, he remains extremely popular compared to other candidates, despite facing multiple corruption charges, including bribery and fraud. Denies the charges.

In opposition, Yair Lapid, a former television host and finance minister, hopes that his Yesh Atid party can become a significant force. To do that, however, the self-proclaimed “centrist” will likely have to forge alliances with parties across the political spectrum, from Arab MPs to far-right nationalists such as former Netanyahu ally Avigdor Lieberman.

Lapid has taken over the role of opposition chief from Benny Gantz, a former army chief who fought Netanyahu during the last three elections but lost support after he made a power-sharing deal that ultimately collapsed.

More than 6.3 million people are eligible to vote at polling stations, which will close at 10 pm (8 pm GMT) on Tuesday. By Election Day, the army closed the crossings with the occupied West Bank, where more than 2.5 million Palestinians live under Israeli rule but cannot vote.

Full results could take days to arrive.

Matti Tuchfeld, a commentator for the Israel Hayom daily, said there are great uncertainties surrounding this election as many voters remain undecided and it is unclear how many people will attend.

Israeli law dictates that parties need a minimum of 3.25% of all votes to even enter the Knesset, meaning that fractional ballot changes could significantly influence the results.

“Nobody knows what will happen this time,” he wrote. “The election results are definitely unpredictable. Only one thing is clear: it shouldn’t surprise us if it surprises us a lot in the end ”.

Another inconclusive result in which no politician has a clear path to form a coalition government could extend the political crisis, with the prospect of weeks of tense deals or even a fifth election.

Questions and answers

What’s happening?

Israelis are voting Tuesday in the country’s fourth national election in less than two years.

Why would they do that?

Under the country’s political system, it is extremely difficult for a party to obtain an absolute majority in the 120-seat parliament, the Knesset. In the past, parties formed governments that came together to form a coalition. However, recent attempts continue to break down.

How?

It depends on who you ask, and there is certainly an element of bad luck about it. Still, the fissures that have kept Israel in limbo relate to just one man: Benjamin Netanyahu. The country’s longest-serving leader has become a sticking point due to his domestic division, being adored and detested.

How were the three previous votes?

“King Bibi,” as he is known, appeared to defeat former army chief and opposition leader Benny Gantz in the first elections in April 2019, but a disgruntled ex-ally, far-right nationalist Avigdor Lieberman, prevented him from forming a government. . The upcoming elections saw Netanyahu and Gantz in a virtual tie and the two torpedoed each other’s race for power. A third vote ended in a government, a compromise in which Netanyahu and Gantz agreed to rotate the post of prime minister. But that deal collapsed in December.

What about the Netanyahu corruption case?

The 71-year-old leader has been formally charged with corruption, allegations he denies, and will continue with hearings next month. Political analysts in Israel have speculated that Netanyahu broke the last government because he had to hand over power to Gantz. They say he would rather risk another election in the hope that he can fight the charges from the powerful position of prime minister.

Has anything changed this time?

Many of the key players remain the same, although some have changed. Gantz, who had campaigned on a promise to oust Netanyahu but later reneged and joined him, lost much support. Yair Lapid, Gantz’s former running mate who attracts secular middle-class Israelis, is now the head of the opposition.

Is occupation a problem in this election?

Internal politics in Israel have leaned to the right, and the fate of millions of Palestinians under Israeli military control has all but disappeared from election campaigns.

When will we know the results?

Voting figures will come in early Wednesday morning, but it could take days to count the ballots. If the outcome becomes confusing, the real battle for power could take weeks. Current polls show a stalemate, so there is a possibility that the country faces a dreaded fifth election.




www.theguardian.com

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