Two elections in a year - and no government continues: Democracy in Israel is facing a stress test unprecedented in the history of the country. President Reuven Rivlin commissioned Benjamin Netanyahu to form a government on Wednesday night. The PM, in office since 2009, now wants to try just that. But his chances of success are considered low.
That Netanyahu has even received the order, astonished at first glance:
- The 69-year-old had received with his Likud party in the elections in mid-September with 32 mandates one less than his challenger Benny Gantz and its center alliance blue-white.
- But the two politicians could not agree on a coalition in recent days during exploratory talks.
- However, 55 Knesset MPs have suggested Netanyahu as the next prime minister. He received a single vote more than Gantz.
That's why Rivlin gave the Prime Minister the job of forming a government. But Netanyahu is now facing a task that should be even difficult for him, the previously unchallenged grand master of tactics:
- Neither the right and religious parties come on a majority of 61 of the 120 seats in parliament, nor the center-left camp.
- The kingmaker of every government is Avigdor Lieberman, head of the ultra-nationalist Israel Beitenu party. He wants to overthrow Netanyahu, his former boss and today's rival. (Read more about the backgrounds here)
- Benny Gantz is also seeking a government without the long-term premier. In the past ten months he has run two campaign campaigns with a slogan: "Bye, Bibi", as Netanyahu's nickname is in Israel.
Netanyahu has 28 days to form the government. At the same time, he has to take care of his own personal future: In the coming week, on 2 and 3 October , he will be heard by the Israeli judiciary. He faces a charge in three corruption cases. The decision will be made a few days after the first hearing.
President Reuven Rivlin orders Benjamin Netanyahu to form a government
Already on 3 October , the new Knesset will meet. The newly sworn in deputies can decide by a majority of 61 votes on whether to dissolve parliament. The result: new elections.
One thing is clear: Netanyahu should be ready to form a government on October 23 , when his 28-day deadline expires. Although he can ask President Rivlin another 14 days - until 6 November . But if Netanyahu, as in early summer, is not capable of forming a government, he might not be able to make it in the extra two extra weeks. Rivlin would therefore in all likelihood reject his request.
Gantz or new elections?
Netanyahu's opponent Gantz hopes for this scenario. President Rivlin may have the opportunity to inform Knesset spokesman Juli Edelstein, an in-party rival of Netanyahu, that there is no government majority for anyone. More likely, however, that he will commission Gantz to form a government should Netanyahu fail.
Benny Gantz is playing poker - if he wins is unclear.
Gantz would also have 28 days left until 20 November, with a possible 14-day extension until 14 December . He speculates that a rebellion could occur in the Likud party if Netanyahu fails to form a government or is in the meantime indicted. Then, according to Gantz's calculations, his chances would not be bad to form the unity government he was aiming for-with his party, Blau-Weiss, the Likud-without Netanyahu-and Lieberman.
By speculation, however, no governments are formed. At present, many things seem possible - even that neither Netanyahu nor Gantz can form a government, and there is a third time to new elections.
A scenario that rejects the population in large part, after all, they had the last time on 14 November 2018 a stable government. At that time, Avigdor Lieberman resigned from his post as Minister of Defense in the Netanyahu Cabinet - the trigger for everything that has happened since then.