Runners and Riders: Yair Lapid, Michaeli, Horowitz, Gantz
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LIVE BLOG – Exit polls predict dead heat after Israel’s 2021 election

No leader has a clear route to a majority in the Knesset at the end of voting in the fourth election in two years

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Runners and Riders: Yair Lapid, Michaeli, Horowitz, Gantz

Yesh Atid

Leader: Yair Lapid

Polling prediction: 20 seats

Led by a one-time TV host, this party is one of the few centrist movements that has outlasted a single election cycle in Israel’s often brutal political scene.

Yair Lapid of Yesh Atid

Yesh Atid owes its survival in no small part to the fact it has not stood alone in an election for six years: since then, it was part of the Blue & White alliance. But that arrangement disintegrated with Benny Gantz’s decision to join a Netanyahu government. Yair Lapid is often portrayed by the Israeli right as a left-wing figure of hate, but he’s on course to become the main opposition leader at least. He may even be back in government.

Labour

Leader: Merav Michaeli

Polling prediction: 6 seats

Merav Michaeli

The once-mighty party that founded Israel is now a minnow. It has not won an election since 1999 and elected so few MKs in recent years that they could share an UberXL on the ride to the Knesset. The new leader, its third in as many years, is Merav Michaeli, who has likely done enough to avoid the catastrophic fate of winning no seats at all. But a long, uphill struggle awaits.

Meretz

Leader: Nitzan Horowitz

Polling prediction: 4 seats

The closest thing Israel has to a mainstream Green movement, Meretz is the furthest to the left of all the parties in the Knesset. It is far away from the heady heights of the early 1990s, when it boasted 12 seats; these days, some fear it won’t win enough votes to enter the Knesset at all.

Blue & White

Leader: Benny Gantz

Polling prediction: 4 seats

Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz . Photo by: Tal Shahar, Yediot Ahronot, Pool Via JINIPIX

Breaking campaign promises does matter: Benny Gantz is living embodiment of that. The former IDF chief’s decision to join Benjamin Netanyahu in government did make him defence minister, but it irretrievably tore apart his alliance with Yair Lapid. It means that while Lapid’s supporters are heralding him as a candidate for prime minister, Gantz’s party might not win enough votes to enter the Knesset at all. A crashing finale for a movement that once vowed to end the era of Netanyahu.