Two years later and still no successful election


Benji Kohl, Writer

Image from Wikimedia Commons

Within the past two years, Israel has held three elections, and coming up on March 23, 2021, there will be a fourth election. This raises a question: Why has it taken so long for Israel to run a successful election?

Elections in Israel are quite different from those in America. The way Israeli elections work is that there are 120 seats in the Knesset, the national legislature of Israel, and in the election, citizens vote for political parties, not candidates. Then, depending on how many votes each party gets, the seats in the Knesset are apportioned among the parties. This creates a government with many different political parties with no particular party having the majority of seats, but since no party receives a strong majority, the solution is creating a coalition among the parties to make up the majority. After the election, the president chooses a leader who will then have 28 days to form a coalition and will become Prime Minister.

On April 9, 2019, an election took place, resulting in Benjamin Netanyahu being tasked by President Reuven Rivlin to create a coalition for the majority of the seats in the Knesset. He was given until May 29, 2019 to complete this task. As May 29 approached without success in forming a coalition, Netanyahu decided to force a new election to take place. This then called for another election to occur, which did not result in a clear winner for Prime Minister. 

Rivlin tasked both Netanyahu and Benny Gantz to gather enough member in the Knesset to create a party, but both failed. Image from Wikimedia Commons

In the next election on Sep. 17, 2019, Netanyahu was again tasked with forming a coalition, but he was unable to do so. This then forced Rivlin to select another candidate to form the coalition. He chose Benny Gantz, the leader of the opposing party, to do so. Gantz also ended up failing to do so by his deadline of Dec. 11, 2019, which forced a third election.

The third election was held on March 8, 2020. Following this election, Gantz won and was asked to form a coalition. The parties were at a stalemate and so Gantz decided to go against his previous beliefs and form a coalition with Netanyahu. This meant that Netanyahu and Gantz would rotate between the position of Prime Minister, and on May 17, 2020, they were sworn in.

This all went well until Dec. 23, 2020, when “the Knesset was automatically dissolved as required by law after a deadline to pass the 2020 state budget expired.” This meant that Israel would be forced into yet another election coming up next month on March 23, 2021.

Zohar Flacks, the Director of Jewish Life at Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy (HBHA), says that the main reason that the governments are failing is because they are not able to create a government that will be strong enough to work efficiently. This issue arises from the fact that the parties are unable to make a viable government and have not come together to form a better, stronger government that will succeed in running the country. Flacks believes that Israel should consider adopting a new electoral system, but that it might be too late for that option at this point in the elections. She says that the fact that the elections have been unsuccessful for such a long time indicates the “division of the Israeli people and the deep-rooted problems in [the] parliamentary system.” 

Even after an experimental coalition after two failed elections, the coalition was broken and Israel was forced into a fourth election. Image from Wikimedia Commons

As the next election approaches, this brings up another question. Will there be a different outcome? Flacks unfortunately believes that many of the same issues present in the previous failed elections are still present in the upcoming one, so the outcome will most likely be the same as previously. Regardless, no one can truly know what will happen in the upcoming election, so we will just have to wait and see what the outcome will be.