I voted this morning a bit after 10, so now I have time to speculate about what’s happening out in the country.
To be clear – I have no access to any exit polls or opnion polls since Friday — which is good, because it’s illegal to publicise them even if I did. Those last polls showed the Zionist Union opening up a big gap over Likud in the last week of the campaign.
Since last Thursday night the Likud campaign has been in overdrive, with Benjamin Netanyahu doing more media interviews in one evening than in the last six years of his time as Prime Minister, talking up the Zionist Union’s chances and calling on right-wing voters to support Likud.
There is anecdotal evidence that this might be working, winning back voters from the Jewish Home party and Moshe Kahlon’s Kulanu.
That’s especially bad news for Jewish Home, which was polling at 15-17 seats in January and 11-12 on Thursday. If Mr Netanyahu wins a few seats from Jewish Home, Naftali Bennett’s party could end up doing rather worse than it did in 2013 when it won 12 seats. Some party sources say they’ll be down to single figures.
But it’d good news for Netanyahu.
Here’s my guess about what we’ll see, assuming all three smaller parties (Beiteinu, Meretz, Yachad) make the threshold. If they don’t then every party will increase proportionately.
- Netanyahu’s frantic campaign and moves rightwards will have stopped the bleeding for Likud and might even help move the party up by a few seats. I reckon 23 or so.
- Labour and Yesh Atid will benefit from anti-Bibi votes and votes as people come off the fence. Together they’ll be something like 40 seats, but the precise split will depend on how Tzipi Livni’s announcement last night that she’s willing to give up the rotating premiership plays.
- Jewish Home is in trouble and will be down to at least 10 seats and probably single figures.
- Kulanu is hard to call. If it does well than it will be taking votes from mainly Likud and possibly Shas at this point. It’ll probably get some “election surprise” seats to counter those Netanyahu has won back. So I reckon 10-12.
- Likud is claiming massive 300% increases turnout in the Arab sector. That’s not the case — turnout is reportedly slightly up there but not as much as the Right is claiming. So I reckon the Joint List will do as expected at 13-14 seats.
Beyond that we’re into small parties and sectoral parties where things are harder to predict.
I may update later based on rumours and gossip as the day progresses.