Voting sites opened at 7 a.m., with final opinion polls giving an edge to the party led by Netanyahu’s main rival, former military chief Benny Gantz. By noon, the Central Elections Committee released figures showing that less than 24 percent of the population had voted, a slight drop over the same time in the previous elections in 2015. Polls will remain open until 10 p.m.
While the polls suggest that Gantz’s party will win the most seats in parliament, Netanyahu still seems to be in a stronger position to assemble a governing coalition, which is what ultimately matters.
For many Israelis, it boils down to one question: Should Netanyahu stay or go?
“Let’s make this happen,” said Gantz, as he voted in his hometown of Rosh Haayin, near Tel Aviv.
In a campaign waged largely over social media, Netanyahu has kept the race tight despite facing corruption allegations. Israel’s attorney general announced in February that he planned to indict the prime minister in three criminal cases, pending a hearing in which Netanyahu can defend himself.
If he wins a new term and remains in office past July, Netanyahu will become Israel’s longest-serving prime minister, surpassing the 13 years and 127 days of Israel’s founding father, David Ben-Gurion.
Trying to prevent that is Gantz, a 59-year-old who is making his political debut. In a highly polarized political scene, Gantz has been running on a message of unity, stressing that he is of neither the left nor the right. Netanyahu has branded him a “leftist” from the outset.
Gantz’s message may have resonated with Israelis who are weary of Netanyahu’s leadership and concerned about questions of impropriety, but the challenger has stumbled in television interviews and has been criticized as wooden, especially in comparison to Netanyahu’s polished performances…..
image….Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks with supporters as he tours the Mahane Yehuda market with his wife during the final stage of his election campaign in Jerusalem on April 8. (Abir Sultan/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)
RRH Elections takes a look at the election from the Right….
Israel: Israel has a population of 8.7M and a land area slightly smaller than New Jersey. It is 75% Jewish and 20% Muslim and (remember, lest you have been hypnotized by Ilhan Omar) a first-world democracy. The 120-member parliament, known as the Knesset, is elected by simple national party-list proportional representation with a 3.25% threshold. Israel has a very fractious party landscape; only once has a party ever held an absolute majority, for just 9 months back in 1969. Thus, coalitions (in many cases of a huge number of parties) are a constant. Of note – Israel polls are generally reported by seat count, not vote percentages, so don’t get those confused…..