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Brief guide to Israeli elections

Israelis head back to the polls tomorrow to cast their ballots in the unprecedented fourth national election in two years.

According to final public opinion polls, no single party will emerge with a clear mandate to form the next government. The winner must garner at least the simple majority of 61 out of the 120 member of the 24th Knesset to successfully build a viable coalition.

A 19 March Channel 13 survey forecasts Likud 30, Yesh Atid 18, Yamina 10, New Hope 10, Joint List 8, Shas 8, United Torah Judaism 7, Yisrael Beiteinu 6, Labor 6, Religious Zionism 5, Blue & White 4, Meretz 4, United Arab List 4.

The Channel 12 poll taken the same day reflected nearly identical results: Likud 32, Yesh Atid 18, Yamina 9, New Hope 9, Joint List 8, Shas 8, United Torah Judaism 7, Yisrael Beiteinu 7, Labor 6, Religious Zionism 4, Blue & White 4, Meretz 4, United Arab List 4.

The Shas (8,8), United Torah Judaism (7,7) and the Religious Zionism (5,4) parties have already declared allegiance to joining a (30, 32) Likud-led coalition to be headed by Prime Minister Netanyahu; reflecting overall total mandates of 50 (Ch. 13) or 51 (Ch. 12).

It is believed that MK Yair Lapid of Yesh Atid (18, 18) would be backed by New Hope (10, 9), Yisrael Beteinu (6, 7), Labor (6, 6), Blue & White (4,4), Meretz (4,4), and possibly the Joint List (8, 8). Although the Joint List has never sat in an Israeli government to date, if it joined the bloc, Lapid would garner 56 (Ch. 13 and Ch. 12).

Neither Yamina (10, 9) nor United Arab List (4, 4) have revealed who they would endorse for prime minister.

Failure by either of the major blocs to garner the necessary 6-seat majority would result in an historic fifth election cycle.

The Main Parties:

Likud / The Consolidation: right-wing, headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, founded in 1973.

Yesh Atid / There is a Future: centrist, headed by Member of Knesset (MK) and Opposition Leader, Yair Lapid, founded in 2012.

Yamina / Rightwards: right-wing, headed by MK Naftali Bennett, founded in 2019.

New Hope / Tikva Hadasha:  centr-right to right-wing, headed by former MK and cabinet minister Gideon Sa’ar, founded in 2020.

Joint List: political alliance of 4 Arab-majority Arab nationalist / anti-Zionist parties Balad, Hadash, Ta’al, and Ma’an Arab, headed by MK Ayman Odeh, founded in 2015.

Yisrael Beiteinu / Israel Our Home: center-right to right-wing, headed by MK Avigdor Liberman, founded in 1999.

Shas / Sephardic Torah Party: right-wing on social issues, center-left on economics; ultra-Orthodox Jewish, headed by Aryeh Deri, founded in 1984.

United Torah Judaism: right-wing, ultra-Orthodox Jewish, headed by MKs Moshe Gafni and Yaakov Litzman, founded in 1992.

Labor: left-wing, headed by Member of Knesset Merav Michaeli, founded in 1968.

Religious Zionism: far right-wing, ultra-Orthodox Jewish, headed by MK Bezalel Smotrich, founded in 1998.

Blue and White: centrist, headed by Alternate Premier and Defense Minister Benny Gantz, founded in 2019.

United Arab List / Ra’am: Arab nationalist / anti-Zionist, headed by headed by Mansour Abbas, founded in 2021 after leaving Joint List.

Meretz / Vigor: left-wing, headed by Nitzan Horowitz, founded in 1992 as part of an alliance, 1997 as a single party.