Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has chosen to call for new parliamentary elections in early 2013, instead of waiting until October of 2013. His poll numbers are strong, and the prime minister wants to have more room to pass a budget he believes will help Israel’s economy. The coalition that now runs the government is split because some of Netanyahu’s partners are making demands that would cripple Israel’s ability to restore its economic surge in recent years under Netanyahu’s stewardship. Israel’s export-dependent economy has slowed this year, and Netanyahu has warned that Israel could wind up like Europe if it doesn’t tighten its belt, saying:
I have reached a decision that it is impossible to pass a responsible budget. Facing two upheavals around us, economic and security, it is my obligation to put the national interest above all else. Therefore, I have decided that the good of the state of Israel requires holding elections now.
The vote is expected to be in February, which would give Netanyahu time to deal with the Iranian nuclear threat; he told the U.N. that the Iranians will obtain enough enriched uranium by next summer.
Gideon Rahat, a political-science professor at Hebrew University, thought Netanyhau’s prospects looked bright: “It looks good for him. Right now the opinion polls are quite stable. It seems he will be re-elected, and he will be able to renew his mandate.” Haaretz, no friend of Netanyahu’s, released a poll just weeks ago that stated his Likud party would get enough votes to lead a bloc of about 68 of 120 seats composed of conservative and religious parties.