Israeli election campaigns are not for the faint hearted. They might not be to everyone’s likings and they hardly produce decisive results, but they are never dull and never fail to generate great excitement.
When we talk or write about the volatile Middle East, there are few certainties. One of these certainties is that foreign policy in Israel remains the same even as political seasons change. Whether there are elections or government crises, Israeli foreign policy bets on its outdated “security-based diplomacy” approach to foreign relations that has anchored the State’s Defense Doctrine since the Six-Day War in 1967.
The early elections for the 21st Knesset were supposed to be a referendum on Benjamin Netanyahu. This, at least, was the purpose of the Prime Minister himself – along with winning a large personal consensus and a solid political majority recreating a more disciplined right-wing coalition under a stronger Likud, and catching the momentum of the positive mood among the Israelis on security and economic policy.
On the eve of the 9 April 2019 elections to the Knesset in Israel, more continuity than change is in store. The campaign of the left-center parties fails to garner a minimal majority. The creation of Kahol-Lavan, a fresh "catch-all" party, headed by ex-generals and composed of a mix of leftist and rightwing public figures, does not do the job.
The elections of April 9 to the 21st Knesset, originally due for November 2019, are among the most contested, uncertain, and possibly crucial in the 70 years of Israel's democracy and political history. The fact Premier Benjamin (Bibi) Netanyahu called an early vote was emblematic of the contradictory circumstances facing Israel's leading politician, the national party system, and indeed the entire nation. Netanyahu had to maneuver between anticipating or postponing elections – each of the solutions carrying serious costs and benefits.
Talking about the upcoming Israeli Elections, the name of Benny Gantz stands out as the true and only rival of Benjamin Netanyahu in this electoral race; together with his party, he has an unprecedented chance to defeat the Likud.
Facing the 2019 elections, Israel’s society is split more than ever. We see a polarization between two camps, similar to those we see in other Western democracies, like the US, Britain or elsewhere. For the first time Israel society perceives the split between the left (-center-arab) block and the right as the most severe societal tension.
On the way to consolidate the shift from a parliamentary to a presidential republic, Turkey is facing a number of challenges in both domestic and foreign policy. Domestically, the main alarm bells for President Recep Erdogan come from the economy, which entered into recession at the end of 2018, with 20% inflation, 13.5% unemployment and rising costs of living, especially in food prices.