Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu staved off a rare primary challenge to his leadership of the Likud Party in a landslide victory over former minister Gideon Saar. He will continue to lead the party into an unprecedented third election in a year after failing to form a coalition government the previous two elections.
The long-time leader of the party was expected to win, but optics dictated that he needed to win by a lot, which he did with 72% of the vote. Now, he’ll need to work with Saar, the rest of his party, and other conservative parties to win the March, 2020, election and finally form a new government.
The Times of Israel reports that Netanyahu was largely expected to win Thursday’s runoff, as Netanyahu has led the Likud party since 1993. Just under half of the party’s 116,048 dues-paying members cast their ballots on Thursday at over 100 voting stations in Israel.
“A huge win!” Netanyahu declared on Twitter. The prime minister vowed to lead the Likud party “to a big victory in the upcoming elections and continue to lead the State of Israel to unprecedented achievements.”
For the first time in Israel’s history, Prime Minister Netanyahu was unable to form a governing coalition after two inconclusive elections in 2019. Also a first, the prime minister was indicted on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust in a corruption case that alleges the prime minister of handing out gifts and political favors in exchange for favorable news coverage.
The adversity he faces and the angst among Israeli voters will have all eyes on him and his biggest competitors, Blue and White, in next year’s election. Another inconclusive election would be disastrous for the Jewish state.
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