Yair Lapid fulfilled his dream prematurely. Ever since the popular TV host founded the centrist Yesh Atid (There is a Future) party in 2012, he has made no secret of his desire to occupy the official residence on Jerusalem's Balfour Street. His appointment as prime minister was not under ideal circumstances: the "government of change" he formed in tandem with Naftali Bennett dissolved a year later. Many praised his generosity: he agreed to cede the first turn in office to his partner, despite the fact that he surpassed him by ten seats.
Lapid took the reins of the country last July and now, with just four months of experience in office, he tries to sell himself as a solvent leader committed to "continuing to change things." Faced with the foreseeable tie between blocks predicted by the polls, Lapid and the parties that support him alert their electorate that the fifth elections are a definitive final. The rightward shift of youth and the further demographic growth of the religious – loyal to Likud – could spell the grave of liberal and secular Israel.
"Young women should know that if Ben-Gvir and Smotrich (Religious Zionism) take power, you will not be fighters in the army, government ministers, company directors, and you will lose the rights to your bodies," Lapid warned in one of their campaign slogans.
Yesh Atid emerged as a party more focused on social issues. One of his founding promises was the extension of compulsory military service to all citizens to end the exemption granted to the ultra-Orthodox. In his brief tenure, Lapid boasts of having improved aid for the disabled or Holocaust survivors, greater recognition of LGTBI rights, and aid for the self-employed and small businesses affected by the pandemic.
Lapid starts with a significant disadvantage compared to his great rival, Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud. The left-wing Avodá and Meretz parties, as well as the Khadash-Ta'al Arab alliance – whose support for Lapid is in question – are fighting to secure the minimum percentage of the vote to enter the Knesset. If they do not overcome the 3.25% barrier, thousands of center-left votes would go to waste.
For this reason, Lapid ordered his acolytes to stop seducing the voters of the minority formations of his same bloc. "They are two serious parties, which should be in the next coalition," snapped the centrist leader. The polls predict 60 seats for Netanyahu's coalition, 56 for Lapid's and 4 for Jadash-Ta'al. To obtain a majority, 61 seats are required. The threat of continuing the electoral loop does not dissipate.
Another flank that harms him is the foreseeable demobilization of Arab voters. For this reason, Lapid traveled to Nazareth to meet with twenty mayors from this sector.
For Haviv Rettig Gur, a columnist at the Times of Israel, Netanyahu ensured by promoting joint lists that no right-wing faction is left out of the Knesset. “Lapid doesn't have that ability. His supporters come from antagonistic factions that include right-wingers, progressives or Islamists”, he concluded.