Israeli Benjamin Netanyahu calls for early elections
BY Associated Press
Wednesday, October 10, 2012
10/10/12 at 3:19 AM
Israel's prime minister on Tuesday ordered new parliamentary elections in early 2013, roughly eight months ahead of schedule, setting the stage for a lightning quick campaign that will likely win him re-election.
For nearly four years, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has presided over a conservative coalition that has proven stable in a country where governments rarely serve out a full term. Re-election could grant him a fresh mandate to continue his tough stance toward Iran's suspect nuclear program, put the already deadlocked peace process with the Palestinians further into deep freeze and complicate relations with the U.S. if President Barack Obama is re-elected.
In a nationally televised address, Netanyahu said he was forced to call the elections after his coalition could not agree on a budget in the face of a Dec. 31 deadline.
Netanyahu is expected to easily be re-elected as prime minister: He is riding a wave of popularity and his opposition is fragmented.
The next vote had been scheduled for a year from now, although speculation had been growing that the current government's days were numbered and that Netanyahu would call for an early vote.
A recent poll in the Haaretz daily found that 35 percent of Israelis believe Netanyahu is most suited to being prime minister, more than double that of his closest rival, Labor leader Shelly Yachimovich. The survey had a margin of error of 4.2 percentage points.
Parliament reconvenes next week for its winter session without the annual budget in place.
At that time, Netanyahu is expected to formally dissolve parliament.
Original Print Headline: Israeli prime minister calls for early elections
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a news conference Tuesday at his office in Jerusalem. BERNAT ARMANGUE/Associated Press