Deadline arrives for Israeli political parties to form mergers

Israel’s political parties have until today to finalise their electoral lists and form mergers ahead of the March 23 presidential

Israeli party mergers

Photo: Jack Guez/ AFP/ Getty

Israel’s political parties have until today to finalise their electoral lists and form mergers ahead of the March 23 presidential vote.

In early January, Israel saw a surge of new political parties formed, with those seeking seats in the Knesset reaching nearly 20. The wave started on the right, with Likud’s Gideon Sa’ar establishing his own New Hope party, but the flourishing of new parties spread quickly to the center-left bloc. Now, to avoid being left under the four-seat electoral threshold, parties in both political blocs are rushing to form mergers.

According to a recent poll, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing bloc, comprised of Likud and its ultra-Orthodox allies, is currently estimated to win 44 seats. The center-left coalition formed by Netanyahu’s rivals and excluding Arab parties could win 61 to 66 seats, securing the 61-seat majority required to form government.

With the latest polls pointing to an increase in the popularity of the Labor Party and a dip in Likud’s votes, the oppositional bloc is likely to lead the incoming government. Yet, considering the bloc’s ideological incoherence, which will include factions such as the right-wing New Hope and potentially the left-wing, social democratic Meretz, expect the Knesset to experience political stalemate if the bloc controls parliament.

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