Thanks to Israel’s system of proportional representation, there are eleven parties that have a good chance of winning seats in the Knesset in today’s election. Their opaque and sometimes untranslatable names don’t help outsiders make sense of what they represent. Carrie Keller-Lynn, Haviv Rettig Gur, Tal Schneider, and Jacob Magid provide a useful guide to each of them. Of particular note is Yesh Atid (“There Is a Future”)—founded less that ten years ago—whose leader, Yair Lapid, has been prime minister since July:
Yesh Atid, which describes itself as a “centrist” party, has published and updated one of the most comprehensive platforms of any party running in recent years, offering proposals on issues including corruption, religion and state, violence against women, and Israel’s dwindling population of Holocaust survivors.
Among the platform’s many, many proposals: legislating a ban against politicians convicted of moral turpitude from holding the post of lawmaker, minister, mayor, president, or state comptroller; promoting humanitarian initiatives in the Gaza Strip in exchange for reduced Hamas influence; reducing the gender wage gap; incentivizing large workplaces to create childcare options and increasing work-from-home hours; adopting the Istanbul Convention against violence against women; and integrating more of the population into the workforce, with an emphasis on ḥaredi men and Arab women.
There are also a host of minor parties, some of which focus on such single issues as housing prices and marijuana legalization, which always have a slight chance of winning a seat—potentially obtaining the ability to make or break a coalition. Among the best known is the Pirate party:
Leaders of the Israeli branch of the Pirate party define their goals as promoting freedom of expression, science, the individual, and the right to take copyrighted material, as well as “development and promotion of the pirate sector” and a direct democracy. The party is known for silly pranks, like dressing up to file its registration, but has also championed the use of the Internet in democratizing society. The party has run in every Israeli election for the last sixteen years, but has yet to come close to raising the Jolly Roger in the Knesset plenum.