Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Netanyahu Calls Elections

Benjamin Netanyahu has called early elections:
"Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced early elections on Tuesday. According to estimates, the elections will be held in the end of January or the beginning of February.
"After pushing the 'red line' for Iran to the summer in his UN General Assembly speech, sources close to Netanyahu said his statements meant the elections will be held earlier than planned. This, both in order to force a security-oriented agenda on the rivals' campaigns, and because of Netanyahu's concern over U.S. President Barack Obama's likely reelection and fear of diplomatic retaliation for the Israeli premier's support of Republican candidate Mitt Romney.
"Netanyahu is also looking to use his relatively positive approval rate and the Likud party's good standing in the polls to prevent potential rivals from strengthening their platforms. Absent a move toward an early vote, the country would go to the polls next autumn."
Part of the power of incumbency in a parliamentary system is that you can often pick your timing for new elections, though the downside of course is that you could lose a no confidence vote and wind up leaving office early.  Netanyahu's Likud is all but certain to win this winter, as not other major party is led by someone who is both popular and a plausible prime minister.  Netanyahu's objective is clearly to keep riding the Iranian nuclear program, much as he did in the 2009 elections, as a way to play to the Likud's strength as a party of national security without addressing the Palestinian question.  This also means, however, that Israel won't attack Iran until 2013, if then.



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