There is hardly any doubt about a victory for the Netanyahu-Lieberman coalition in Israeli elections on January 22.
Opinion polls show Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s conservative Likud party, and former Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s nationalist Yisrael Beitenu winning around 35-37 seats in the 120 seat Knesset.
But this is a sharp decline from the 43 seats they had shown in the polls just in October. There is a new candidate who has caused this erosion of their votes.
Surveys show Naftali Bennet, an old Jewish settler and high tech millionaire chipping away at Netanyahu’s lead drawing support from his traditional power base.
The head of the Bayit Yehudi party, who wants to annex parts of the occupied West Bank, was shown to be in second place with a predicted 18 seats.
Netanyahu also faces challenges from the centre and the left. The former foreign minister, Tzipi Livni has been trying to join her centrist Hatenuah party, with the also centrist Yesh Atid and the Labour Party.
Together it is predicted they could get more than 40 seats.
But the Labour leader, former journalist Shelly Yachimovich has refused because she does not accept Livni’s strategy. He proposes that if the center-left bloc loses the election it could join a government headed by Netanyahu to block the road to religious parties as well as Naftali Bennett.
Israel uses the closed list voting system so the electorate vote for a party and not an individual candidate. The seats are then given out proportionately to all party’s who gain more than two percent of the vote. As a result the government of Israel tends to always be a coalition.