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Israelis vote tomorrow

What happened: Ahead of tomorrow’s vote all the parties are pushing their final messages, looking to boost turnout among their supporters and persuade the undecided.

  • Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu continues to present the choice for voters as between himself and Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid. Netanyahu also focuses on the successful vaccination campaign and how he is best placed to repair the post-pandemic economy.
  • On Saturday, Lapid challenged Netanyahu to a debate, saying: “The Israeli public deserves a debate. They deserve answers. They deserve to know what kind of government you’re trying to assemble here. The studios are ready, the interviewers are ready; there are two podiums just waiting for us. For many months you’ve put me on billboards, you’ve given speeches, made videos. Let’s see if you really meant it. Let’s see if you really want a debate or if you chicken out.” Netanyahu declined, saying that he would only agree to debate if Lapid were to formally declare that he was running for prime minister.
  • Yamina is promoting Naftali Bennett’s economic plan. Yesterday, he signed a commitment that he would not support a government in which Lapid was prime minister.
  • Gideon Saar’s New Hope party continues to present an authentic right-wing that is respectful of the law and the state institutions. This morning he accused Bennett of planning to join a Netanyahu government after the elections. He wrote on twitter, “Now it’s totally clear: A few metres before the finish line, the honest Bennett has collapsed into Netanyahu’s arms. He failed to withstand the pressure.”
  • Yisrael Beiteinu leader Avigdor Lieberman has continued to attack the influence of the ultra-Orthodox parties and has declared that he wants to be the next Finance Minister.
  • In turn, the ultra-Orthodox parties are using Lieberman’s comments to motivate their supporters to bring out the vote.
  • The Labour Party is placing their focus on its leader, Merav Michaeli, highlighting her values and integrity as well as being the only party led by a woman. She has so far refused to endorse Lapid as a prime minister.
  • After nine months of weekly protests, the largest anti-Netanyahu demonstration was held on Saturday night, with more than 20,000 protestors outside the Prime Minister’s residence. In addition, hundreds of smaller demonstrations were held at intersections and bridges across Israel.

BICOM Poll of Polls 

Aggregate Polling, March 4-19

Context:  The final polls were published on Friday, in which the Likud remained the largest party but could still find it difficult to build a 61-majority.

  • The anti-Netanyahu bloc is made up of a diverse group that has little in common ideologically, apart from their desire to remove Netanyahu from office.
  • With four parties (Blue and White, Meretz, Religious Zionists and Raam) polling close to the electoral threshold, any of these parties not making it over could significantly alter the overall balance between the two blocs.
  • At the end of last week, polls suggested that there are around 10-12 seats worth of votes still undecided.  That could also have a significant impact on the final results.
  • There remain other variables that make this election difficult to predict, for example: how coronavirus and general voter apathy will affect voter turnout and in what areas.
  • Yesterday Knesset Speaker Yariv Levin raised concerns that the Central Elections Committee have been “biased and illogical” against the Likud. However, asked if they would accept any election result, Levin said, “We have always accepted the voters’ will, and we will continue to do that.”

Looking ahead: Counting of the votes could take longer than usual, due to the larger number of ill or quarantined people that will vote in specially allocated isolation booths. The process that they vote with ‘double envelopes’ means their votes need to be cross-referenced to ensure they did not vote twice.

  • Central Elections Committee (CEC) Chairwoman Orly Ades has said that the count would only be completed by Friday afternoon.
  • Formally, the head of the CEC, Supreme Court Justice Uzi Fogelman, is expected to deliver the final election results to President Rivlin on Wednesday 31 March.
  • The president then has seven days to hold consultations with all the party leaders, and decide whom to entrust with forming a government, no later than Wednesday 7 April.

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