Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Did Not Form a New Coalition Government in Due Time
The term that the Israeli Prime Minister was given after early elections in March to form a new coalition government expired on Wednesday night. Netanyahu failed to form a cabinet, increasing the possibility that his Likud party could be in the opposition for the first time in twelve years.
On March 23 of this year, Israel elected its parliament (Knesset) for the fourth time in the last two years. The election was referred to as a referendum on Prime Minister Netanyahu, whose opponent pointed to a lawsuit in which the PM is accused of corruption. Netanyahu’s Likud became the winning party with thirty deputies, but in fact the election did not have a clear winner, as Likud and its allies do not have a majority in the 120-member parliament. The bloc of right-wing and religious parties ready to support the current PM won 52 seats, while is opponents won 57 seats.
According to Yohanan Plesner, head of the Israel Institute for Democracy, such a situation is „the worst political crisis“ that Israel has experienced in decades. According to Plesner, the weaknesses of the Israeli electoral system are also strengthened by the „Netanyahu factor“ – a popular Prime Minister who is trying to remain in office despite allegations of corruption. The Israelis are said to be split in half on this issue.
In the current situation, when the deadline for forming a coalition government has expired, the next step is now up to President Reuven Rivlin. The President can now task another politician or extend Netanyahu’s term. The President may also ask the Knesset to select a candidate for PM. If all options for forming a government fail, the country would probably face another round of parliamentary elections; thus the fifth in the last two years.