Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid votes, March 17, 2015.
(photo credit: PR)
With the exit polls predicting 11 Knesset mandates for Yesh Atid, Yair Lapid’s party fell short of its surprise 19-seat finish in the previous election, but managed to exceed expectations that had it polling at as low as seven seats just a few months ago.
Yesh Atid MK and former education minister Shai Piron said after the exit polls were released that said he did not know whether Lapid had spoken to Moshe Kahlon of the Kulanu party about forming a centrist alliance. Piron advised the public to wait for all the votes to be counted, adding that he thinks his party will be the third largest after the Joint (Arab) List splits apart, as he predicts.
Earlier on Tuesday night, after weeks when Yesh Atid was polling at around 11 seats, and with two of the three TV channels predicting 12 mandates for the party, spirits were high at the post-election gathering at the Tel Aviv Port.
Yair Zivan, the international media adviser for Lapid and the party declined to make a prediction, but he spoke of polls saying the party would get 12, 13, maybe even 14 seats, showing the optimism expected of a party representative.
He credited the expected upswing with the message that has been based on “the things that we’ve done and what we’re going to do,” saying that the party eschewed the attack ads that have defined much of this campaign, not only because Lapid is opposed to them but also because using them just would not have been a good strategy for Yesh Atid.
Many had predicted that Yesh Atid would be hurt on Election Day as potential voters chose the Zionist Union, believing that would be the best way to send Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu packing, a problem that Meretz also faced.
“I’m sure there are people who were deliberating between us and Buji [Zionist Union chairman Isaac Herzog], but our message is that we are crucial for stopping a coalition government of Bibi [Netanyahu], [Bayit Yehudi head] Naftali Bennett and the haredim,” Zivan said.
That said, when asked whether they would serve in a coalition government with Netanyahu, Zivan said Yesh Atid had not “played the coalition game” so far, but that there is “almost zero chance Lapid will recommend Bibi for prime minister,” echoing an assessment that Lapid has already expressed.