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Israel Election: Benjamin Netanyahu vs Yair Lapid | Everything You Need To Know

Netanyahu's Likud Party is expected to be the single-largest in the Knesset, but short of a majority.

3 min read
Israel Election: Benjamin Netanyahu vs Yair Lapid | Everything You Need To Know
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Israel on Tuesday, 1 November, is holding its fifth general election in less than four years.

Why? This comes months after the ruling coalition - led by Naftali Bennett and the current prime minister Yair Lapid - lost their parliamentary majority in May this year, after the resignation of an Israeli-Palestinian lawmaker.

Netanyahu Exit - In June 2021, the ideologically diverse alliance had ousted former premier Benjamin Netanyahu from power - marking the end of his 12-year reign.

Will Netanyahu be able to stage a comeback? Or will Lapid succeed in stitching another alliance to keep him out of power? Here's everything you need to know about the 'too-close-to-call' election.


Who Are the Contenders? What Are Their Chances of Winning? 

Netanyahu and his centre-right Likud Party will aim to make a grand comeback in the election. If polls are to be believed, Netanyahu's party will be the largest in Israel's Parliament, or the Knesset, after the polls.

However, the Likud might fall short of a majority - 61 seats in the 120-member Assembly, needed to form a government.

Some polls have also suggested that Netanyahu could only be one seat away from clinching the country's top post.

On the other hand, PM Yair Lapid's centrist Yesh Atid Party will most probably come in second place.

Lapid's current coalition partner Naftali Bennett is not contesting the polls this time around, due to deep divisions in his party.

Defence Minister Benny Gantz will also be aiming for an impressive tally in the election, spearheaded by his new party, called 'National Unity'.

A far-right coalition, named the Religious Zionist Party, will look to become the largest far-right group ever in Parliament. Some polls suggest that the extremist Ben Gvir-led alliance could also become the third largest in the Knesset.

What Happens If No Party Gets a Majority? 

If no party or coalition crosses the majority mark, Lapid will remain the country's caretaker PM, and Israel will head to the polls again in the next few months.

If Netanyahu's party gets around 60 seats, he will attempt to form a coalition - which could take days or even weeks.

However, there is an underlying reluctance on the part of other parties to team up with the veteran leader due to multiple corruption charges against him.

Why Does Israel Have Elections So Often? 

Israel has a multi-party parliamentary system; however, none of the parties are usually in a position to win a majority in Parliament on their own.

This means that parties have to form alliances and reach the required 61 seats needed to form a government.

Often times, however, such coalitions are shaky. So much so that the resignation of even one or two legislators could topple the government and trigger an election (which is what happened with the Lapid-Bennet coalition this year).

To make the forging of alliances easier, Israel's political system states that a party needs to get at least 3.25 percent of the popular vote to have a seat in the Knesset.

This, in turn, leads to very small parties staying out of Parliament - thus preventing the splintering of votes even further.


What Are the Main Issues for Voters? 

Israeli society is characterised by deep divisions, which is the case with most countries with a populist leader on the one hand, and a coalition opposing him/her on the other.

While some Israelis are prioritising reduced costs of living and security as their main concerns, others are rallying behind the popular appeal of Netanyahu.

On the other hand, extremists or advocates of the far-right have overwhelmingly extended support to the Zionists and their hardline policies.

The Israel-Palestine issue is also a vital issue for voters, as it has been in every preceding election.

Currently, around three million Palestinians are living under Israeli occupation in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

If elected to power, Netanyahu may crack down on Palestine more aggressively, and even formally annex several parts of the region.

This has led to rising fears among Arab Israeli voters, which account for around 20 percent of Israel's population and may be the deciding factor in the polls.

When Will the Results Be Announced? 

The results of the election are expected to be announced on Wednesday, 2 November.

(With inputs from CNN and Time.)

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