Though the next Israeli election isn’t supposed to be held until November of 2017, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s latest moves suggest he sees the current coalition collapsing early, and wants to be ready for an early election within the next year.
Netanyahu has altered the scheduling of Likud primaries and is looking for more rule changes to ensure him more concrete control over the current ruling party’s list ahead of any election.
In the 2013 elections, Likud ran a joint list with Yisrael Beiteinu, but the two parties have split again for the next vote. The ruling coalition has a narrow majority, and Netanyahu has been facing criticism from both sides of the right-far-right coalition, either of which could withdraw and force an early vote.
For the far-right parties, and even for hawks within Likud, Netanyahu has been criticized as insufficiently hawkish, with many upset that his month-long war on Gaza wasn’t longer and bloodier. By contrast, the party of Finance Minister Yair Lapid has criticized Netanyahu for uncontrolled military spending, arguing that Israel simply can’t afford to keep pouring money into these conflicts.
Polls show Likud likely to remain the largest party in a new election, though talk of another Kadima-style split of the more moderate wing could change those calculations dramatically. The polls show religious right party Jewish Home, and the opposition Labor Party as the next two in the running, meaning the next coalition could be every bit as divided and unstable as the current one.