Fourth Round at the Polls? Election Committee Ready, Report Says

Voting notes for the Knesset elections, back in September 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

With polls continuing to show a standoff between left and right, the Central Elections Committee is preparing for what many Israelis would be the unthinkable – a fourth election. A report in Yediot Acharonot said that the Committee did not wish to be caught off-guard as it was after the second election, and that a date had already been chosen for a fourth election, should no government result after the March 2 election.

The date of that new election, if it takes place, would be September 8, 2020 – 19 Elul, barely a week before Rosh Hashanah. According to journalist Amit Segal, “the ballots for the third election have been printed, but the Committee is quietly preparing for fourth elections.” After both the April and September 2019 elections failed to yield a government, the Committee scrambled to prepare for an unprecedented third election, which after much effort was set for March 2, 2020.

While many politicians have said that they don’t expect fourth elections, the polls show that they are a distinct possibility. A Friday poll by Yisrael Hayom showed that both the right and left blocs would be unable to form a government on their own without “stealing” MKs from the other side – and that Yisrael Beytenu remains the kingmaker.

The poll shows Blue and White getting 36 seats and the Likud 34 – nearly even. On the right, Yemina and Shas would both get 8 seats, and United Torah Judaism 7, for a total of 57 seats for the right wing. On the left, Blue and White would join with Labor-Meretz-Gesher’s 8 seats for a total of 44. If the United Arab List joins the coalition or supports it from the outside with its 13 seats, Blue and White head Benny Gantz could count on 57 seats in a vote to form a government. Otzma Yehudit does not pass the electoral threshold.

Yisrael Beytenu, with 6 seats, holds the key to forming a government with either side. The party’s leader, Avigdor Liberman, has twice rejected a coalition with the Likud and Binyamin Netanyahu, but has also declared that he would not join a coalition supported by the United Arab List.