Published Jan. 26, 2013, in The Waterloo Region Record.
Those familiar with Israel’s electoral system will know that identification of the leading party and the prime minister-designate in a parliamentary election like the one held Tuesday is only the beginning of a long, arduous negotiating process to determine the shape of the new government, something that can take weeks.
While incumbent Benjamin Netanyahu is effectively the only plausible choice for prime minister after this week’s voting, his Likud party and its partner Israel Beteinu dropped from 42 seats in the previous Knesset (parliament) to just 31, barely halfway to forming even a bare majority in the 120-seat legislature, and it would require a substantially larger coalition to have any stability.
Most of Netanyahu’s decline was taken up by a new more conservative party, Bayit Yehudah. Of even greater consequence, however, is that the overall aggregation of right-wing and religious parties that sustained him in the past fell from 65 seats to 61, effectively insufficient to form a government on their own.