Thursday, April 1, 2021

2021 Israeli Election

On March 24, 2021 Israel held its fourth election in the past two years. The Israeli political system is a proportional representation. This means that individuals are not voted for, but parties. A party must receive a certain percentage of votes to receive representation.

The house of representatives in Israel is called the Knesset. This body is made up of 120 seats. A party receives a certain number of seats based on the percent of the vote they receive.

Prime Minster Netanyahu’s party is a right-wing party called the Likud. They received the most votes of any other party. Naftali Bennet used to be a part of the Likud but split off and formed his own party, the Yamina Party, opposing Netanyahu.

Bennet’s party is one of a few new parties that met the threshold. Thirteen parties met the threshold: the most since 2003.

Prime Minister Netanyahu has been prime minister for the past fourteen years. The election appeared to be a referendum on Prime Minster Netanyahu. In the recent past, he has been accused of corruption and an investigation is ongoing. This made this election even more important to the people of Israel.

President Netanyahu and his right-wing coalition received 52 seats in the election. This means they fell short of the majority threshold of 61 seats in order to be the majority coalition. The opposition coalition received 57 seats, which also falls short of the majority threshold.

The election ended in a stalemate. This makes Prime Minister Netanyahu a caretaker prime minister. Essentially, he is a lame duck president unless he can form a coalition with some of the other parties in government.

There are two parties that are not committed to either coalition at this point in time. The Yamina party and the United Arab List. The Pro Netanyahu group has said that they will not work with the United Arab List.

The Yamina party split off from the Likud party but now has a big sway in if Netanyahu stays in power. Even if with their support, they would not reach the 61-seat threshold necessary to gain a majority.  

This election has specific ramifications for the Israeli government and the Israeli people. President Netanyahu has come under investigation for corruption charges. Had he been able to win a majority, he would have been able to stop the investigation.

Interestingly enough, the voter turnout was at 67.4%. This is a lower percent than most Israeli elections. This could be a sign that the people are getting tired of elections.

The opposition party wants badly to keep the investigation going. If the investigation found the corruption charges to be true, President Netanyahu would be forced to resign. This would bring major changes to the face of Israeli politics.

Both sides have been racing to make a majority coalition. Creating a majority coalition will be hard due to religious differences Religious Zionist party and the United Arab List. Specialists fear that the coalitions would be unstable and likely fall apart.

While President Netanyahu’s party did lose seven seats, the opposition did not gain enough seats to oust him. The next few days and weeks will be crucial in determining the future of Israeli politics.

Some have predicted that a fifth election might be necessary to determine a majority coalition. As for now, it appears that the people of Israel have not had enough of President Netanyahu.

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