2020 Israeli legislative election
All 120 seats in the Knesset
61 seats needed for a majority
Legislative elections for the 23rd Knesset will be held in Israel on 2 March 2020. According to the relevant Basic Law, the elections were required to be held no later than the third Tuesday of the Hebrew month of Cheshvan four years after the previous election on 17 September 2019, making the latest possible date 31 October 2023.
However, on 11 December 2019, due to the continued failure by all parties to form the country's next government, early elections were called, the third within a year after the September and April 2019 elections. Israeli commentators have expressed fear that the political paralysis is severely weakening public trust in an already highly-polarized political system.
The extended period of political deadlock that led up to the election was the result of close races in April and September 2019 that left both incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and opposition leader Benny Gantz unable to muster a 61-seat governing majority, in coalition with their respective blocs of smaller, ideologically-allied parties.
As a result, Netanyahu and Gantz agreed in principle that the only solution was a national unity government between Netanyahu's Likud and Gantz's Blue and White parties. However, substantial disagreements over the terms of such a government prevented one from being formed, as Netanyahu demanded the inclusion of his allied right-wing, religious parties, and Gantz refused to cooperate with a Netanyahu-led Likud as long as he was under indictment for alleged bribery and fraud.
Orly Adas, director of the Central Elections Committee, cautioned that she lacked the necessary funding and staff to conduct a third election, and President Reuven Rivlin stressed his desire to avoid calling one, repeatedly expressing his dismay at the failure to form a unity government. Nevertheless, as required by the Basic Law, he initiated on 21 November 2019 on a 21-day period in which any member of the Knesset (MK) who received the support of 60 of their fellow lawmakers was allowed to try to form a government. After no MKs succeeded at this task by 11 December, Rivlin was forced to call the new election.
With the deadline to form a government ending at 11 December at midnight, elections called 90 days later would be held on 10 March. However, as that would conflict with the Jewish holiday of Purim, the elections would likely be held either one week earlier on 3 March, or one week later on 17 March. A Knesset bill would have to be passed to allow the election date to be moved up. The date of 3 March conflicts with an Israeli memorial day, so Likud pushed for an election date of 16 March, while Blue and White wanted an election held on 2 March. The two parties agreed to hold elections on 2 March 2020 and the required Knesset votes took place on 11 and 12 December.
The table below lists the parliamentary factions represented in the 22nd Knesset.
|Name||Ideology||Symbol||Primary demographic||Leader||September 2019 result|
|Blue and White||Big tent
33 / 120
32 / 120
|Joint List||Big tent
|ודעם||Israeli Arabs||Ayman Odeh||10.45%|
13 / 120
9 / 120
8 / 120
|United Torah Judaism||Religious conservatism||ג||Ashkenazi Haredim||Yaakov Litzman||6.09%|
7 / 120
|Jewish Home-National Union||Religious Zionism
|טב||Modern Orthodox and
4 / 120
|New Right||National conservatism
3 / 120
|Labor-Gesher||Social democracy||אמת||–||Amir Peretz||4.80%|
6 / 120
|Democratic Union||Social democracy
5 / 120
- The central committee of the Likud party, on 8 December 2019, voted to cancel the primary for its electoral list. However, an internal Likud court ruled on 19 December that it was unconstitutional, as the Likud constitution would have to be amended if primaries were cancelled. The central committee approved, on 12 December, the holding of a leadership primary for the party on 26 December, in which Netanyahu defeated his challenger, Gideon Sa'ar. The Likud court, on 23 December 2019, overturned the decision to hold a primary for the Knesset slate. Likud filed its list on 16 January.
- Yair Lapid of the Blue and White alliance (פה) indicated that he would abandon a previous agreement to rotate the premiership with Benny Gantz if another election takes place, meaning that only Gantz will be the Blue and White candidate for prime minister. The party submitted its list on 15 January.
- Joint List (ודעם)
- Labor-Gesher-Meretz (אמת): The Labor-Gesher joint list announced on 15 December that it will stay together for the March election. The Israeli Labor Party joint list announced on 15 December that it will keep Amir Peretz as head of the party. Both of the decisions were ratified by the Labor Central Committee on 25 December, in addition to allowing Peretz to select two candidates for the first ten slots on the list, which would bump down other candidates. The Meretz party decided on 16 December against holding a leadership primary. The party held a vote on 22 December and decided against holding a primary for the Knesset list (instead keeping the same slate of candidates as the previous election) and also confirmed Nitzan Horowitz as leader of the party. The Democratic Union initially announced on 7 January 2020 that it will run in the election. On 7 January 2020, Peretz proposed the creation of a centre-left political alliance between his party, the Blue and White party, and the Democratic Union. On 8 January, Gantz ruled out uniting with any party and suggested that Labor-Gesher merge with the Democratic Union. On 12 January, Labor announced that it was negotiating a joint list with Meretz to prevent the possibility of either party not making the electoral threshold and not entering the Knesset. Labor and Meretz announced a joint run on 13 January 2020, with the Labor party central committee voting in favor of ratification of the alliance the following day. Meretz approved the alliance on 14 January. The alliance submitted its list on 15 January.
- Shas (שס)
- Yisrael Beiteinu (ל)
- United Torah Judaism
- Yamina (טב): The Jewish Home and Otzma Yehudit announced on 20 December that they will run on a joint list (later named the United Jewish Home) and had called on Tkuma to join them. However, Jewish Home leader Rafi Peretz faced backlash on 21 December from over 80 officials of the party (including Jewish Home's "number 2", Moti Yogev) indicating that Peretz reached the deal with Otzma Yehudit unilaterally, and further warning that if the deal was not annulled, they would "convene" the central committee and announce party primaries. (They claim Peretz was against open primaries as he supposedly was afrad of losing his leadership position). They also sought a vote on the merger by the parties' central committee. The merger was approved by the central committee on 13 January. Ayelet Shaked announced on 19 December that she will run as part of the New Right, as number two on the parties list. A joint run between itself and Tkuma was announced on 14 January, following a collapse in negotiations between Tkuma and The Jewish Home. One apparent cause for the collapse was the cancellation of the vote to approve the merger between Tkuma and Jewish Home. The Jewish Home MK Moti Yogev, Shaked, New Right head Naftali Bennett and Tkuma head Bezalel Smotrich had all called on Peretz to join the New Right and Tkuma list. Peretz had insisted that he would not abandon the agreement he signed with Otzma Yehudit, though he ultimately reneged on his promise and the Jewish Home, Tkuma and the New Right reformed the Yamina alliance.
- Moshe Feiglin of Zehut announced on 13 December 2019 that his party will not run in the election.
- Noam announced on 2 January 2020 that it will not run in the election.
- Stav Shaffir initially announced on 25 December that she will run independently as head of the Green Movement, though was still working on creating an alliance of the Labor Party, Meretz, the Green Party and allies of former prime minister Barak, going as far as raising the possibility of giving her second slot on the Democratic Union list to Issawi Frej, an Arab member of Meretz. She let go of her demand for the second place on the list on 4 January 2020 in an attempt to keep the Democratic Union list united, though her Green Party was not included in the Democratic Union alliance or the Labor-Gesher-Meretz alliance. She rebutted Horowitz' claim that she was offered the fifth seat on the Meretz list, instead stating that she would have received the second slot, but at the cost of "ousting" Golan and "dismantling" the Democratic Union, which she was unwilling to do. Shaffir announced on 15 January that her party will not run.
For parties not crossing the electoral threshold (currently 3.25%) in any given poll, the number of seats is calculated as a percentage of the 120 total seats.
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