PM tells ministers early elections still an option

Budget problems, tough economic decisions may make early elections a better political option than waiting until 2013.

Likud primary polling place 390 (photo credit: Ben Spier/screenshot)
Likud primary polling place 390
(photo credit: Ben Spier/screenshot)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has said publicly several times recently that he wants the next election to be held on time in October 2013, but in closed conversations with his ministers, he revealed that he is considering advancing the race.
Channel 10 reported on Wednesday night that he told three Likud ministers he might move up the election, because he is unsure if he could pass the 2013 state budget. According to the report, Netanyahu does not trust his coalition partners to make the compromises necessary to avoid an election that would be automatically initiated if the budget is not approved by March 31.
The prime minister already delayed the first vote on the budget. His political opponents said he postponed it because he lacked a majority, but his supporters said he decided tactically that it would be easier to pass it later on.
One of the Likud ministers Netanyahu spoke to told The Jerusalem Post that the cutbacks in the budget required Netanyahu to make a tough decision about whether they should be implemented before or after the next election.
Another Likud minister said Netanyahu’s conversations about advancing the election and the subsequent leak could be part of a maneuver by the prime minister to keep his coalition partners in line and ensure that the election will be held on time.
“Due to all the negative economic headlines, this is the worst time for elections,” the minister said. “Likud activists are very angry. I got the impression his plan is to [make the cutbacks] now to distance the [cuts] from the election next year.”
A source close to Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz said his staffers were moving full-speed ahead with the budget and working hard to ensure it will be ready for passage. The source added that postponement of the first vote on it was due solely to technical reasons.