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As 4th Round of Elections Looms, No Israeli Leader Has Clear Path to Prime Ministry

For those who believe the Israeli voter should be able to get it right with four elections in two years, think again. The latest polls show another split decision and no clear leader to take the top prize, the prime ministry. Israelis vote for parties, not people. The prime minister is invariably head of one of the parties, and nearly always, head of the party that has won the largest number of seats in parliament. Regardless, he or she must be able to weave together a coalition of at least 61 seats. Stalemate ensues when no Knesset member can form a government. The latest polls now show incumbent Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s Likud party firmly ahead of its nearest opponent by 14 seats but not able to find more than 55 seats to seal the deal. At the same time, the “anyone but Netanyahu” parties – those parties whose leaders have vowed not to join a Netanyahu-led government – are polling at a combined 65 seats. Of course, March 23 is a long way off and new parties are still being formed as are vote-sharing deals. But after surviving in office longer than any premier in Israel’s history, Netanyahu is in the fight for his political life.