JERUSALEM — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seems to have squeezed by a surprisingly tight election and looks likely to form Israel’s next government. But his hold on power is more tenuous than ever before.
Exit polls indicate that the prime minister has lost up to 25 percent of his seats in the Knesset, Israel’s parliament.
Even with the right-wing Netanyahu at its helm, the next government will necessarily have to reflect the influence of Yair Lapid, a centrist, secular, photogenic former journalist and the great surprise of these elections. He now leads Israel’s new second-largest party, Yesh Atid (There is a Future).
In defiance of almost every forecast, the next coalition government of Israel will in all likelihood be significantly less beholden to right-wing hardliners than the current one. Based on a fragmented political mandate and reliant on inexperienced new faces, many predict it will be fragile and short-lasting.
As exit polls revealed Netanyahu’s chute, one Israeli political analyst referred to the elections of 2013 as the pollsters’ Day of Atonement. Israel, it appears, is in dire need of a local Nate Silver.