General elections for the 22nd Knesset began today with the opening of the polling stations at 7:00 am this morning and will close at 10 pm.
Dozens of political parties are on the ballot competing for the votes of around 6.4 millions citizens. 10,700 voting stations have been placed throughout the country including hospitals, prisons, and schools. Some 18,000 police officers, security company employees and volunteers are monitoring the polling stations across the country and in the West Bank settlements.
IDF soldiers have already been permitted to begin voting 2 days ago. The ballot boxes placed at the army bases have been manned by approximately 5,000 lone IDF soldiers who will receive compensation for their work.
This new election is all the more crucial for Mr. Netanyahu because it takes place one month before his appearance before the courts on cases of corruption, breach of trust and embezzlement. At the moment, the prime minister is neither charged nor convicted, but an election victory could allow his allies to grant him immunity.
Former IDF General Benny Gantz, of the Blue and White party, is Netanyahu’s primary rival in this election. Gantz is a leftist candidate who is liberal on social issues such as civil marriage but is hawkish on security issues. Depending on the outcome of today’s election, he most likely will need an alliance of the left secular parties and Arab parties to from a coalition.
In the last election, turnout was around 68%.