Fresh elections will be held in Israel on 17th September after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was unable to secure a new coalition deal. This will be the first time that the country has faced two general elections in one year.
The results of April’s election were, as ever, inconclusive and required a coalition. Netanyahu seemed in prime position to bring together right wing and religious parties under the leadership of his Likud Party, but former Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman held out for his plan to force ultra-orthodox students to complete military service – something that angered religious parties.
With no deal apparent by the deadline of midnight on Wednesday, Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin would have had the ability to ask another member of parliament – either from within the putative right ring coalition or former Army Chief of Staff Benny Gantz whose Blue and White Party came second – to try to form a government. However the Parliament chose instead to force another election.
Netanyahu will be hoping that he can pin the blame for the failure of talks on Lieberman and persuade voters to return a stronger Likud presence. Gantz will be seeking to capitalise on the failure to form a right wing government to make gains for the centre and left. But any changes in outcome will likely be small and a further period of coalition negotiations will be needed.
One consequence of this vote will be that Netanyahu, who will continue as Prime Minister until the election, will become Israel’s longest-serving leader in July. He is still awaiting possible bribery and fraud charges.