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Lapid wins big in mock school election once — but no longer — seen as prophetic

PM’s Yesh Atid wins 45.1% of votes at Tel Aviv Blich High School, against 24% for Netanyahu’s Likud; polls predict Netanyahu lead, within reach of premiership

A crowd gathers as Religious Zionism MK Itamar Ben Gvir gives a speech at Blich High School in Ramat Gan, September 20, 2022. (Twitter screenshot; used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
A crowd gathers as Religious Zionism MK Itamar Ben Gvir gives a speech at Blich High School in Ramat Gan, September 20, 2022. (Twitter screenshot; used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

A poll on Tuesday at a Tel Aviv-area high school once seen as a bellwether of general election results gave Prime Minister Yair Lapid’s centrist Yesh Atid a landslide victory over opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party, in contrast to public surveys, which consistently place the latter ahead.

In the mock elections by eleventh and twelfth graders at Ramat Gan’s Blich High School, Yesh Atid won a whopping 45.1% of electoral votes, while Likud garnered 24%.

Up until 2013, the traditional Blich poll was seen as a largely reliable forecaster of election results, but it has been far from accurate in more recent years.

Lapid took to Twitter to thank the students for his victory, and expressed hope that “they will correctly predict the real results this time too.”

In 2013, Lapid’s Yesh Atid came out on top. Though the school has taken pride in predicting the party’s surprising showing in the election (19 seats, far more than polls had projected), the winner in that vote was still emphatically Likud with 31 seats.

Ahead of the April 2019 elections, the poll predicted Blue and White’s victory (56 seats). That party and Likud tied with 35 seats in the national vote.

In the 2022 poll, the National Unity party received 12.4% of votes, Labor had 5% and Religious Zionism 4.6%. Fiery Youth, Meretz, Yisrael Beytenu, the Joint List (which recently broke up into Hadash-Ta’al and Balad factions), and both ultra-Orthodox parties failed to meet the 3.25% election threshold in the poll.

Under such unrealistic circumstances, parties opposing Netanyahu would comfortably form a government.

The results at Blich are vastly different to those from three recent poll TV polls, which shows parties in the Netanyahu bloc winning 60 seats — one seat short of forming a majority, while parties in the current coalition received 56 seats. Hadash-Ta’al, which supports neither bloc, won 4 seats, while Balad failed to cross the electoral threshold.

Prominent politicians traditionally visit the school during the mock election, and Blich regularly invites figures from opposite ends of the political spectrum to speak to students ahead of it. This year saw Transportation Minister Merav Michaeli, Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked, Otzma Yehudit party head Itamar Ben Gvir and Fiery Youth party chair Hadar Muchtar attend. Representatives from all contending parties were present.

When the far-right Ben Gvir visited earlier this month, he was greeted by protestors outside the school, but also counter-protesters among the students who chanted at the left-wing demonstrators: “May your village burn.” The chant, usually directed at Arabs, has been heard at numerous far-right events in recent years. The school principal later said the students who chanted were disciplined.

On Tuesday, Ben Gvir was filmed in a verbal confrontation with Michaeli during the mock vote.

Israelis head to voting booths on November 1 for the fifth round of elections since 2019.

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