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Israel: Four elections in two years From “World News Headlines, Latest International News, World Breaking News – Times of India”



JERUSALEM: Israel, which goes to the polls Tuesday, has staged four elections in two years, as political parties struggle to form or maintain coalition governments. With Benjamin Netanyahu — Israel’s longest serving prime minister — hoping for another victory in the March 23 polls, here is a timeline of the four elections since 2019. In polls on April 9, 2019, Netanyahu hopes to prevail again, despite being dogged by corruption allegations. Netanyahu’s Likud and the Blue and White alliance of ex-military chief and centrist challenger Benny Gantz finish neck-and-neck with 35 seats each. Parliament chooses Netanyahu, backed by smaller right-wing parties, to try to form a majority government. But after weeks of political bargaining, he is unable to command a majority in the 120-seat parliament. The deadline expires and the Knesset agrees to hold a new election. The next election on September 17 is another tight race, with Gantz’s party at 33 seats against Likud’s 32. Netanyahu, charged with forming a government, proposes a unity government, but Gantz refuses to join, citing his rival’s potential indictment on corruption charges. Even with their respective allies, neither can muster the 61 seats needed for a majority. President Reuven Rivlin tasks Netanyahu with forming a government within 28 days. On October 21, Netanyahu announces he has failed. Rivlin hands the task to Gantz, who also throws in the towel a month later. On November 21, the attorney general charges Netanyahu with bribery, fraud and breach of trust. It is to be the first time a sitting prime minister faces trial in Israel. Netanyahu rejects the charges, saying they are an attempt to remove him from government. On December 11, as the deadline passes for parliament to find a head of government, lawmakers call a new election on March 2, 2020. This time around Likud wins the most seats — 36 against 33 for Gantz’s party. On March 16, Gantz, backed by 61 lawmakers, is nominated to try to form a new government, but fails. On April 20, with Israel on lockdown against the coronavirus and facing economic crisis, Netanyahu and Gantz announce a deal to form an emergency unity government. The three-year agreement will allow Netanyahu to stay in office for 18 months. Gantz will then take over as premier for another 18 months, before Israel heads to a new round of elections. On May 6, Israel’s Supreme Court approves the coalition deal and lawmakers endorse the pact the next day. Rivlin tasks Netanyahu with forming a new government. After parliament fails to adopt a budget, parliament is dissolved on December 23, and new elections called for March 2021. Israelis go to the polls for a fourth election on March 23. This time round the scenario of a neck-and-neck race has vanished, as Blue and White has fractured and Gantz has slumped in the polls, having not been forgiven by many supporters for his alliance with Netanyahu. Netanyahu will have three main opponents — centrist Yair Lapid, conservative Gideon Saar and the champion of the nationalist right, Naftali Bennett.







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