Analysts are predicting ahead of the Israeli legislative elections to be held next January that incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be re-elected to head a more conservative coalition government.
Hebrew University professor Dr. Gayil Talshir:
"The next coalition that Netanyahu is very likely to form, this coalition is going to be much more radical right wing coalition because Netanyahu is going to have primaries and Feiglin and the other people are going to try to take it much more into the right wing and the natural partners are much more right wing people. You have to understand that in Israel in the last four years there was a wave of anti-democratic legislation."
Prime Minister Netanyahu recently announced his intention to hold the government polls eight months earlier than expected following the coalition’s failure to push through a new budget plan by the end of the year. This comes after a wave of protests over living and housing costs last year when tens of thousands of Israelis marched down the streets of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
2011 social protest leader, Stav Shafir:
"The fact that we are going for elections on an economical issue over the budget, the election is supposed to be only about the budget, is I think thanks to the protest. The protest demanded last year that we'll decide on a new budget and now Netanyahu has to do that. He must go and ask citizens to vote for his budget, his destructive budget that we're opposing and we have to go and show an alternative. That's our power here.”
Although many expect significant changes in the country’s 120-seat parliament, Netanyahu will likely be re-elected as its head with opinion polls placing him far ahead of the scattered and leaderless leftist opposition.
Hebrew University professor, Dr. Gayil Talshir:
"If an alternative to Netanyahu is actually going to emerge, it has to say, we want to take care of the national interest of the majority of Israelis and not to go into the sectoral identity politics kind of issues, even though it is going to mean that we might not have such a stable coalition next time round."
Prime Minister Netanyahu will be hoping to capitalize on his current popularity and Israel’s buoyant economy to get a second mandate in order to continue his tough stance on Iran’s nuclear programme. But there are fears that ongoing tensions between Jerusalem and Washington could worsen if US President Barack Obama is also voted back into office next month.