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Israel's 'unchallengeable' Netanyahu calls elections at prime moment (+video)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called early elections yesterday, appearing to count on his experience and high public support to ensure a third term.

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu calls for early election
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Unlike President Obama, who has no control over when he gets to ask American voters if they would like him to stay on for another term, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu can seek reelection whenever he wants – and he has chosen a plum moment.

Mr. Netanyahu is being trumpeted as virtually unrivaled for Israel’s top post after he exercised his right yesterday to call early elections, which will likely be held in February. His relentless push to halt Iran’s nuclear program, together with his ability to maintain the status quo despite upheaval in the Arab world and a global financial crisis has consistently put him well ahead of other potential contenders – nearly all of whom lack the mix of experience and public support that Netanyahu enjoys.

“He is unchallengeable in terms of polling that shows he’s most suitable to be prime minister,” says public opinion expert Dahlia Scheindlin.

Indeed, since being elected to a second term in 2009, Netanyahu and his Likud party have drawn remarkably steady support from the public, rebounding quickly from any dips in approval, says Ms. Scheindlin.

Even when his approval rating fell from more than 50 percent to 29 percent during the summer, in part due to public dissatisfaction with the economy, he still commanded nearly double the support of the next closest contender, Shelly Yacimovich of the left-wing Labor party. 

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