A year before the next city council and mayoral elections, the political atmosphere in the city is heating up. In the haredi sector, the first signs of the profound change in this community became apparent in the last elections in 2013, when, for the first time in the history of their participation in the elections, there were two separate opposing lists for the Ashkenazi haredi sector, in addition to a separate list for the Shas sector. Sources in the haredi sector say that this trend is likely to accelerate to the point that we might see two separate candidates for the position of mayor.“Strong and accepted spiritual leadership has united this sector for decades, but there is no such leadership today. The usual phenomenon of masses of haredim obeying one rabbi’s dictum for whom to vote no longer exists,” explains an observer of the haredi sector.A sign of this until-recently unthinkable situation is the rumor that Deputy Mayor Yossi Daitch, the representative of the hassidic United Torah Judaism party, is planning to run separately from the Lithuanian sector. Some sources say that Daitch is only bluffing in order to best position himself to benefit from the haredi vote (like reprising his role as deputy mayor or obtaining more jobs for his fellow hassidim), but even if that is true, the fact is that only a few years ago, such an action was unthinkable.Officially, the haredi leadership is still obliged to Moshe Lion as their candidate for the next mayor, but – and this is a big “but” – this is true only if Mayor Nir Barkat doesn‘t run for a third term, something that is far from certain at the moment. No serious candidate will dare to challenge Barkat if he runs again – his financial means, his control over a large operative apparatus and the fact that he is the incumbent make him a candidate who reduces the chances of other candidates to almost nothing.Of the current six presumed candidates, only Ofer Berkovitch (Hitorerut), who resigned earlier this week from the coalition, has announced his decision to run. All of the other candidates have either declared that they won’t run if Barkat runs, or have so far avoided making clear declarations. Adv.Yossi Havilio is eager to run, and while Berkovitch’s declaration has ruined his plans to be the first to announce his candidacy publicly and grab as much initial support as possible, he is still presenting himself as the ultimate candidate for the “pluralist” sector.For the moment, Moshe Lion is allowing himself to smile and keep quiet. While there is no official agreement for him to replace Barkat when the mayor leaves, this is the presumed scenario and a large part of the haredi sector still considers him their best candidate. Deputy Mayor Meir Turgeman is working around the clock to raise as much support as possible, and while his relationship with Barkat is something of a roller- coaster, he also has made it clear that he won’t run if Barkat is still on the scene. So at a year from D-Day, we have one official candidate (Berkovitch), three unofficial candidates (Havilio, Lion and Turgeman) and yet another whose motives – and financial means – are unclear: Avi Salman, formerly a lawyer at the city’s Legal Adviser offices and Barkat’s close assistant – and now a candidate who still presents Barkat as his mentor and friend. Rumors at Safra Square say that this might even be a diversion rather than a real candidacy, but the chances of that are slight.That leaves us with a major piece of this puzzle – will Barkat run again or not? Barkat recently promised that he would declare his intentions toward the end of this year… six weeks from now.