Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Israel PM Netanyahu Calls Elections For Early 2013

A Mandate To Govern

Israel's Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu yesterday announced early general elections, eight months before his current mandate ends, in a bid to receive a renewed mandate from the electorate to impose certain austerity measures that are likely to be unpopular with particular segments of the population. The Guardian writes:
"I have decided, for the benefit of Israel, to hold elections now and as quickly as possible," Netanyahu said at a press conference, without specifying the date of the poll. Israel's economy and national security are the two issues likely to dominate the election campaign, with the question of a peace agreement with the Palestinians being pushed down the political agenda. The election date is expected to be late January or early February.
Netanyahu's party, Likud, is expected to comfortably win the largest share of the Israeli parliament's 120 seats, almost four years after the last election in February 2009. The prime minister had the option of waiting until next October before going to the electorate.
His coalition government has proved unexpectedly stable despite repeated threats by his small rightwing coalition partners to bring down the government. Under Israel's electoral system of proportional representation, the leader of the biggest party will have to negotiate with smaller parties to form a new coalition government.
Netanyahu's decision to call early elections rests on two main domestic considerations. The first is the forthcoming national budget. The prime minister faces a massive struggle to get an austerity budget passed in the face of the warring interests of the smaller parties in his coalition who have an eye on their constituencies. He may believe it is better to call an election than see the government fall in the wake of the budget crashing in flames.
Almost forgotten in all the coverage and talk about the threat emanating from Iran is the need to focus on Israel's economy and the necessary measures any government must take to both reduce its budget deficit and create jobs. Israel's budget deficit has doubled in the last year, at about 3 per cent of GDP, which is a worrisome sign for financial markets; its unemployment rate is 7 per cent, the highest it has been since January 2010.

It is likely that Prime Minister Netanyahu is delaying the painful and necessary austerity measures until after the election, which he's likely to win. Even so, he doesn't have much room to maneuver.

You can read the rest of the article at [The Guardian]

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