The spring of 2015 will bring an election that features not just the traditional battle of left and right but a tangled contest of smaller parties, all jostling for seats and for a strong hand in the inevitable coalition horse-trading that will follow.
On the right stands the incumbent prime minister, reviled by some on his own side, under pressure from an army of insurgents who insist they alone truly stand up for the country - but grudgingly admired for his skill in retaining power.
The challenger on the left is from a distinguished political family, hothoused in the traditions of the Labour party that raised him, but somehow lacking the alpha qualities that mark out a leader: he wants to be prime minister but struggles to look the part. The campaign has only just begun and yet it already feels like a long haul.
That's the picture in Britain in the first weeks of 2015, where David Cameron and Ed Miliband prepare to do battle, both looking over their shoulders at the nationalist threat from UKIP and the Scottish National Party. But it also describes the situation in Israel this spring - with Benjamin Netanyahu in the Cameron role and Isaac Herzog playing the part of Miliband.
There are some obvious differences. The election here was unavoidable, the government having run its five-year course. The Israeli ballot is wholly unnecessary, triggered after just two years by the usual coalition shenanigans that are a permanent feature of Israeli life. Often an Israeli election differs from a British one in a more profound way, too: they are about matters of life and death.
While a British contest can turn on the marginal rate of tax, when Israelis go to the polls they're usually thinking about war and peace.
Superficially, 2015 is different. Yes, Netanyahu is humming the same, familiar tunes - issuing dire warnings about the threat of Hamas, Iran and Islamic State, accusing Herzog and his ally Tzipi Livni of being weak and desperate to "capitulate" to the enemy. But there is no peace plan on the table waiting for the voters' verdict, just as there is no immediate threat at the borders that has to be repelled. At first glance, it can seem as if the usual, existential questions that dominate an Israeli contest have receded.
But the Israeli writer Ari Shavit is surely right to say something just as large is at stake, that there is a menace that has to be defeated. The difference is that the current threat to Israel comes not from without but from within.
"The renewed alliance between the nationalist Likud and the messianic Habayit Hayehudi makes an almost apocalyptic horror scenario possible - Israel as Rhodesia, as South Africa, as a fortress of zealots," Shavit wrote recently. "In the balance lies the Jewish-democratic state."
His view, and it's echoed by many others, is that Israel has been lurching steadily rightward, in the grip of a surging intolerance and an aggressive form of messianic nationalism. These are the forces bent on deepening the occupation and enshrining in law inequality between Israel's Jewish and Arab citizens. If they remain in charge, Israel will never be what its founders intended: both Jewish and a democracy. In its determination to be the former, it would destroy the latter.
Even Israel's own president, the Likudnik Ruvi Rivlin, has warned that the country he loves is "sick" and in need of treatment. The March election is a chance for Israel to begin its recovery – or else sink deeper into the malaise.