Thursday, September 26

The Inconclusive Israeli Election Results

The 17th September 2019 elections have achieved a deadlock. PM Netanyahu is on the way out.  According to nearly final Israeli election results, the opposition Blue and White party of Benny Gantz edged ahead of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party 1. However, Benny Ganz may not be on the way in. Neither the Likud nor Kahol Lavan parties with their possible coalitions will make it to the minimum of 61 seats out of 120 Knesset seats. 

 Israeli President Reuven Rivlin tasks Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with forming a new government, during a press conference in Jerusalem on September 25, 2019. MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/Getty Images

It appears that it will take weeks of intensive negotiations between the factions to form a viable coalition which is very complex and Netanyahu, with his legal problems, may have to be replaced if Ganz does not succeed in forming a coalition that will have 61 or more seats. Somebody else from the Likud may replace Netanyahu, who will not resign without a fight. Netanyahu proposed leading “a broad unity government” that would include Likud in alliance with the Kahol-Lavan  alliance, which won the most Knesset seats in the vote and is led by former army chief Benny Ganz 2. He will have to be dragged alive, kicking and screaming with his waning magic racist mantras and balls of rolling sweat pouring down from his brow. Much depends on his Likud cronies, who appear to be giving Netanyahu overwhelming support and to date are not prepared to desert him for a new leader or even pass a resolution to have the Likud primaries voting to replace Netanyahu.

President Reuven Rivlin faces one of the most, if not the most difficult challenge in Israel’s history to try and get the winning party to form a coalition with so many recalcitrant Knesset members, all pulling in different directions with different demands. The main question is whether Benny Ganz will go back on his electoral promise not to sit down and negotiate a unity government with Benjamin Netanyahu rotating the prime ministerial post with him, even if President Rivlin may request him to do so. Electoral promises and post-electoral decisions during negotiations may even be contradictory. Promises made during election campaigns may not be kept once the negotiations for forming a coalition government begin.

The formation of a government coalition, whichever way one views it, is a gargantuan task and the possibility of total failure is very large. The possibility of a third round of general elections cannot be ruled out if no government can be formed. If this occurs, it will cost Israel millions of shekels and the results will remain pretty much the same.

Perhaps it would be a good idea to form a unity government for one purpose only and that is to pass a law changing the electoral system to ensure that there is a change in the delimitation of parties by raising the percentage support they get or to change the system into a a system similar to the UK that has a constituency representation. The House of Commons and local councils in England and Wales use the first-past-the-post system.

The UK is divided into constituencies. Local authorities into wards.

At a general or local election, voters put a cross (X) next to their preferred candidate on a ballot paper. Ballot papers are counted. The candidate with the most votes represents the constituency or ward.

The voting system of proportional representation as at present in Israel will not allow any party to gain an absolute majority to win an election because of the diverse voting patterns of the electorate and a large number of parties participating. Hence many weeks if not months will be wasted in trying to form a government coalition. This exercise may be a test of total futility and the possibility of new futile general elections cannot be ruled out. 

After much ado in the president’s residence, it was decided that Netanyahu get first shot at forming a government 5. His chances of succeeding are poor and he has a week to do so. Balad (part of the Joint List) decided to abstain from supporting Netanyahu or Ganz. This gave the right-wing block the majority which influences President Rivlin’s decision to give Netanyahu first choice. Balad’s expected 3 votes in favour of Ganz were withdrawn at their request. 

After having been given a meaningless, futile mandate by President Rivlin to form a government, Netanyahu thanks the president for the mandate and gives an election propaganda speech about the importance of him forming a government and continuing as PM. He was campaigning for himself and his right-wing cronies to continue leading the country. The bottom line is obvious as well - getting immunity from a criminal trial pending his hearing in a week.

There are reports on Y Net that Kahol-Lavan requested Balad to abstain from voting so that Netanyahu is given the first option to form a government so that that he will fail and that Kahol-Lavan will be given second option to form a government assuming that their chance of succeeding is greater. Both groups, even with their respective supporters, are unable to win an absolute majority of 61 seats. There is a definite electoral stalemate. 

At the end of the day, within a few months, there will be new elections. If there is no electoral reform or a change in the electoral system, there will be no change in the results and Israel will face inconclusive election results after repeat expensive elections that maybe Israel’s destiny. 

  1.  20 Sep. 2019, Accessed 22 Sep. 2019.
  2.  21 Sep. 2019, Accessed 22 Sep. 2019.
  3. September 2019 Israeli legislative election
  4. Israeli Democracy Institute - September 2019 Elections
  5. After election deadlock, Netanyahu tapped by Israel's president to assemble a new government

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