Israel could be headed for its third general election in a year. Yes, you read that right: After two inconclusive contests left lawmakers unable to form a governing coalition, Israeli voters might return to the polls to consider many of the same parties, which are campaigning on the same platforms—again.
Repeat elections aren’t all that unusual. As political uncertainty and fragmentation become more commonplace, several countries have come to rely on them to break a political stalemate, or reaffirm a result. But does holding back-to-back elections serve much purpose—especially when the issues voters are being asked to consider remain unchanged? Put another way: How many elections are too many elections?
A third time could prove the charm in Israel, though that seems unlikely. The country’s electoral drama dates back to its April general election, which resulted in neither Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party nor former military chief Benny Gantz’s Blue and White alliance securing enough votes to form a government. This prompted a rerun of the vote five months later, which proved just as inconclusive as the first. Barring a unity coalition between the two leaders (which has thus far been ruled out) or the emergence of another lawmaker who can cobble together a coalition, the country will almost certainly hold another election next year. Early polling suggests that the results would scarcely differ from those of the first two elections.
Still, repeat elections could be seen as the best way of breaking that paralysis. At least that’s the argument Britain’s Labour Party has made in support of its campaign pledge to hold a second referendum over whether the country should leave the European Union, an issue that has embroiled British politics in a years-long stasis. Labour’s proposed public vote wouldn’t pose the same question as the original 2016 referendum, but the underlying issue—whether to stay in the EU or leave—remains unchanged. Similarly, the Scottish Nationalist Party leader Nicola Sturgeon has called for holding a second referendum on Scotland’s independence from Britain; an initial bid for independence failed in 2014.
In both cases, the prospect of change is far from certain. Though support for Scottish secession has increased since 2014, according to recent polling, the issue has yet to achieve the backing of a clear majority. Similarly, while support for a second Brexit referendum has grown—with those in favor of staying in the EU slightly outnumbering those who wish to leave— most Britons’ views on the issue have only become more entrenched.
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