The Israeli population has been waiting for years for a political stability that has not yet arrived and that they hope to achieve in the elections on 23 March. However, the reality is that the polls are not encouraging a resolution after what will be the fourth elections in Israel in the last two years. The victory of the current prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, looks set to be repeated, despite the corruption scandals surrounding him and his entire party. According to the latest polls, Yair Lapid of the Yesh Atid party is the only one who can snatch the predicted victory from his grasp. However, Lapid's chances of a landslide are minimal and he does not rule out sitting down to negotiate with Netanyahu to form a coalition government, if they manage to achieve an absolute majority between the two of them.
If the COVID-19 elections have taught us anything, it is that turnout is critical because of its logical drop compared to a normal election. Israel, traditionally a country with a very high turnout - over 70 per cent - will feel the impact even more acutely. The President of the Israel Democracy Institute, Yohanan Plesner, has stressed that "participation will be one of the key points of the elections". He did so in a presentation he moderated, entitled 'The fourth elections in Israel, what caused this election cycle and how the political system can be stabilised', broadcast on the Zoom platform.
What seems clearer from the elections is that Prime Minister Netanyahu will repeat his victory, winning 29 seats, according to the poll recently released by Channel 13. Yesh Atid's candidate, Yair Lapid, would come second with 20, which would not allow him to reach the minimum of 61 seats needed for an absolute majority, even if the two favourites come together. These elections will not be just any old elections. Like the November elections in the United States, which ended with Joe Biden in the White House, they will be practically a referendum on the measures taken by the government against the COVID-19 pandemic and the vaccination strategy that the country - which is one of the countries with the best immunisation rates in the world - has been following since the virus arrived more than a year ago.
Plesner believes that the swift action of Netanyahu's government, as well as the speed of vaccination being carried out in Israel, could further strengthen the position of the still prime minister. In fact, a return to normality is getting closer and closer due to the high percentage of immunised people across the country - more than 60% of the entire population, according to the latest data from the Israeli Health Ministry. However, the counterpart to the good performance against COVID-19 is the controversy surrounding the corruption scheme surrounding Likud. At his trial on 8 February, Netanyahu pleaded not guilty and denied all charges. He is accused of, among other things, bribery, breach of trust and fraud.
The Israeli population views with a certain pessimism these fourth elections which, as Yohanan Plesner pointed out, "are not guaranteed to be decisive". The shadow of a fifth election is already beginning to appear even before the fourth elections have been held. In addition, as in the United States, "the results may take three or four days to arrive after election day", added the president of the Israel Democracy Institute. He also stressed the importance of forming a stable government, even if it is a coalition between very disparate forces: "An interim government is weak. We must get out of this deadlock as soon as possible".