It was so nice, they did it twice: the September 2019 Israel election is the nation’s second trip to the polls this year.
Long-time Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faced a stiff challenge from the upstart Blue & White alliance in the April 2019 snap election. In the days and weeks prior to that vote, it was unknown whether or not Netanyahu could cling to power. When the results rolled in on that election night, his right-leaning Likud Party maintained the slimmest of leads over centrist Blue & White.
In total, Likud won a plurality of the popular vote by a margin of less than 15,000 out of over 4.3 million votes cast. When seats were allocated, Likud and Blue & White both had 35, each party 26 short of an outright majority. One-party majority governments are not just unheard of in Israel: it has never happened before, so that Likud or Blue & White failed to get a majority is unsurprising.
The difficult work is in getting enough minor parties on board to form a coalition. In the period following the April 2019 Knesset election, Netanyahu was unable to form a government. Parties leaning right comprised a majority of the seats, but not enough deals were reached to bring Netanyahu up to a majority. Before Blue & White leader Benny Gantz may have been given a chance at forming a government, the Knesset dissolved, and Israeli voters will try again on September 17th.1
This marks the first time in Israeli history that there will be a second general election in the same calendar year.
September 2019 Israel Election Results
Blue & White took a plurality of seats in the September election re-run, though both they and Likud dropped from their April totals. Benny Gantz and his alliance start with 33 seats, 28 short of an overall majority. Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud won 31 seats.
The Joint List, an left-wing alliance of Arab parties, will be the new third-largest party in the Knesset with 13 seats.
Avigdor Lieberman will have a big say in the next government, as the secular Yisrael Beiteinu has eight seats, up three from last time.
April 2019 Israel Election Results
A majority of the April 2019 vote concentrated on the two main parties, Likud and the Blue & White alliance.
Likud and Blue & White tied in the April elections with 35 seats each, and no other party took more than eight. Netanyahu’s failure to get Yisrael Beiteinu, which opposed the Orthodox parties, back into the fold was largely responsible for his failure to form government.
1: “Israel goes back to elections as Netanyahu fails to form coalition” (by Gil Hoffman, Lahav Harkov, Jerusalem Post website, published 30 May 2019, accessed 15 September 2019)