It looks like nobody won a plurality in the latest round

Benny Gantz's Kahol Lavan is ahead of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud Party, according to official election results released on Wednesday after 91 percent of the vote was counted. The results show that neither of the parties have a clear path to securing a majority in Knesset.

With 91 percent of the votes counted, Kahol Lavan has won 32 out of 120 Knesset seats, with Likud behind with 31 seats. Netanyahu's bloc, comprised of right-wing and ultra-Orthodox parties, currently stands at 55 seats. The center-left bloc has 56 seats.

As diverse a group of winners as there are, what becomes of the Knesset if no coalition emerges? Is there another election to try and resolve it?

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    Isn't that why these elections are being held? Netanyahu's party won the plurality but was unable to form a majority coalition? Commented Sep 19, 2019 at 0:21
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    @PoloHoleSet I thought these were the first elections since they dissolved. Either way, if nobody forms a government, do they just keep doing this until they do form one?
    – Machavity
    Commented Sep 19, 2019 at 0:23
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    Yes, I was referring to the inability to form a majority coalition from the spring election results. Gantz has stated he's willing to form a unified coalition...... if Likud dumps Netanyahu. We'll have to see if they'll throw him under the bus (more possible now with the possibility/likelihood of charges). Commented Sep 19, 2019 at 0:27
  • Kahol Lavan stated that they're willing to form a unified coalition with the Likud without Netanyahu, but that can - and should - be interpreted as an opening statement in negotiations, not as an ending statement. It's not unbelievable that Kahol Lavan will say "we tried to form a coalition without Netanyahu, we couldn't, that's the best we could do" Commented Sep 19, 2019 at 8:29
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    I think God appoints a king. Commented Sep 19, 2019 at 16:14

3 Answers 3


The process of forming a government in Israel (which never in its history saw a single party win an outright majority, so there were always coalition governments) is that Israel's president, after consulting with the party leaderships, nominates whoever he thinks has the best chance to form a government. That nominee has 42 days to put together a (coalition) government that would command a majority in the Knesset, which must give the nominee a formal vote of confidence before he/she becomes the new PM.

If the nominee fails in that government/coalition-building endeavour, after the 42-day deadline, the president can nominate someone else to try.

In April, Netanyahu failed to build a majority for a new government by the legal deadline, but he also preempted the president from nominating someone else by having the Knesset pass an act dissolving itself (the vote was 74 to 45), effectively calling snap elections.

I'm not going to try to speculate how this process is going to work out in the present circumstances.

  • Netanyahu's already all but outright stated he won't accept any outcome that doesn't end up with his party in power. Commented Sep 19, 2019 at 19:51
  • @Shadur: Netanyahu can accept or reject any outcome he likes, but that won't change what actually happens. Gantz has said he won't accept a government with Netanyahu in power. They can't both win, obviously.
    – Kevin
    Commented Sep 20, 2019 at 0:29
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    Both parties said to the president they won't call for a Knesset dissolvement if they fail to form a coalition, so if they live up to their word, a majority of Knesset members can sign a petition of support for a PM candidate if none of the president's candidates succeeds. If that fails, it's election all over again. Commented Sep 25, 2019 at 15:17
  • @TsahiAsher: you could probably write that as an answer since you have more up-to-date info. (I answered almost a week ago.) Commented Sep 25, 2019 at 15:21
  • Usual such procedures are written down in a Constitution or similar. Is this also the case for Israel? If so, would it be possible to link to the relevant sections? That would make the answer really outstanding. Commented Sep 26, 2019 at 21:55

There is no law on the books in Israel to stop a third round of elections from taking place, should attempts to form a government fail once again. Thus, should the process described by @Fizz in answer 1 fail, it may be necessary to hold elections again, unless a new law is formulated in the interim.

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    in a guardian article it stated that if the government was not formed elections would likely be held again in january
    – Reed
    Commented Sep 19, 2019 at 14:11
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    @Reed More likely March. The central election comity needs 90 days to prepare for elections, and the coalition formation process can stretch to late November if all paths are exhausted. Commented Sep 25, 2019 at 15:20

The short answer is yes, if no government is formed, we could see new elections as early as mid-January, or as late as end of March, depending on the path Netanyahu and president Rivlin take.

Today, Rivlin gave Netanyahu the mandate to try and form a government. He now has 28 days to complete the task, and the president may, if he so chooses, extend it with up to 14 days more. If he fails, Rivlin may opt to give the mandate to Gantz for another 28 days with no extension. If that fails, the Knesset has 21 days to form a majority around any member and ask the president to let him try to form a coalition. If that fails, elections are held within 90 days. This brings us to elections on March 25th 2020.

But more likely, this will end up much earlier, one way or the other. At his acceptance speech, Netanyahu said he will give his attempt a few days (commenters speculate it will be about a week), and if he sees no progress in the negotiations with Kahol Lavan, he will return the mandate to the president (unlike in April, when he passed a law to dissolve the Knesset before he had to return the mandate). At this point it's quite possible that the president won't waste more time giving Gantz a chance, and move on to give the Knesset a chance to find a candidate. If that fails, we will see elections on January 21st.

After such elections, if held, it's the same process all over again.

Another idea that started to float in recent days, for example by former Labour party chairman Avi Gabay, is that if no government is formed, pass a temporary law for quick direct elections to the prime minister only, which will give a clear direct answer to the question of the identity of the PM, and end this saga.

  • Why wouldn’t Gantz be given a chance? I don’t see any way that he’d be able to do it either, but it would be the second time he was denied the chance to even try.
    – Bobson
    Commented Sep 29, 2019 at 17:18
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    @Bobson because the president wants to shorten the time the country has no elected government. Being an experienced politician, he knows Gantz has little chance of success, and may choose to skip him and go straight to the Knesset. Commented Oct 2, 2019 at 9:25

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