Israelis are heading to the polls for the fifth time in four years. This is an unprecedented case, but Israel aims to end the country’s ongoing political deadlock.
For the first time in 13 years, former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is not running as an incumbent. Bibi, as he is universally known in Israel, hopes to return to power as head of a right-wing coalition, while centrist interim Prime Minister Yair Lapid hopes the mantle of prime minister will help him win re-election.
But if the final polls are correct, Netanyahu’s bloc will get one less seat in parliament.
As in the previous four elections, Netanyahu himself and the possibility of a government led by him is one of the defining issues as his corruption trial continues. A poll by the Israel Democracy Institute (IDI) in August found that a quarter of respondents said the identity of the party leader they were voting for was the second most important factor in their vote.
But some senior center-right politicians who agree with him ideologically refuse to work with him for personal or political reasons. So to make a comeback, Netanyahu, the leader of the center-right Likud party, is likely to depend on the support of far-right parties to form a coalition and, if successful, may be forced to give the leaders their ministerial posts.
Israelis are also very concerned about the cost of living, having seen their utility and grocery bills rise this year. In the same IDI poll, 44% said their first priority was what a party’s economic plan would do to ease the cost of living.
And security, always a major issue in Israeli politics. 2022 was the worst year for the Palestinian conflict-related death toll since 2015.