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Upstart Fiery Youth files election slate, vows to ‘make life difficult’ for rivals

20-year-old Hadar Muchtar stocks list with newcomers and pledges to shake up political scene, but party is polling far below electoral threshold

Hadar Muchtar arrives to register her Fiery Youth party for the upcoming elections at the Knesset in Jerusalem, on September 15, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Hadar Muchtar arrives to register her Fiery Youth party for the upcoming elections at the Knesset in Jerusalem, on September 15, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The upstart protest party Fiery Youth, led by 20-year-old social media star Hadar Muchtar, submitted a candidate slate stocked with political newcomers to the Central Election Committee on Thursday.

“I came to make your lives more difficult. Good luck,” Muchtar said in a speech directed at other politicians. Thursday was the final day for parties to submit their candidate lists.

Fiery Youth is polling far below the electoral threshold and is not expected to win Knesset representation, but the party has caused a stir by attacking the political establishment and protesting the cost of living for youth.

The minimum age for serving in the Knesset is 21, meaning Muchtar cannot become a lawmaker if her party manages to win representation. The first candidate on the party slate is Muchtar associate Bat El Hazan.

“On my list you won’t find politicians of the past, celebs, models or tycoons. You’ll find young people who want to make a change and that’s enough,” Muchtar said.

Fiery Youth is running on a platform of combating the surging cost of living and corruption, tapping into widespread disaffection among many youth disenchanted with the current state of politics and the economy.

The party also advocates greater public involvement in the political process by holding referendums on a number of issues.

Muchtar thrives on the social media platform TikTok by delivering animated tirades against politicians and Israel’s high cost of living. She has over 77,000 followers on TikTok and some of her videos receive hundreds of thousands of views.

@hadarmuchtar

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♬ Burn – Ellie Goulding

Muchtar has been ejected from Knesset meetings for haranguing lawmakers. In a discussion on payments for teachers, for example, she suggested funding teacher salaries with the billions of shekels that have been invested in Israel’s repetitive national elections.

Muchtar visited the Knesset Wednesday and caused a stir with outbursts to television crews positioned to cover the registration process.

Earlier this week, she printed posters against herself and posted them in ultra-Orthodox areas. On Wednesday she dismissed the stunt as a joke in an interview with the 103FM radio station.

“It was something humorous. If this is the worst thing I’ve done in all my years of life, I’m doing okay,” she said.

Fiery Youth caused a splash by polling at 1.5 percent several weeks ago, but has dropped since, and is far below the 3.25% of the vote necessary to win Knesset representation. The faction has outpaced other, more established minor parties, and has polled near Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked.

If Fiery Youth fails to make it into the Knesset, the votes for the party will be “wasted.” Muchtar is not formally aligned with the anti- or pro-Netanyahu political blocs, and has said she would side with whoever gives her the best offer if her party wins representation. However, Israel’s Channel 13 secretly filmed her last week saying “We’ll sit with Netanyahu” and “there’s no chance we’ll sit with the [Arab parties] Joint List and Ra’am.” (Ra’am was a member of the outgoing anti-Netanyahu coalition.)

Muchtar has likened Fiery Youth to the Pensioners’ Party, which rode a swell of disaffection to score a shock electoral coup in 2006, winning seven seats, before fading out of the political scene.

Other minor protest parties have made a splash, then fizzled out, such as the Shulmanim, advocates for the self-employed, which folded into Yamina after its launch in 2020. Moshe Feiglin’s Zehut won 120,000 votes in 2019 but failed to make it into the Knesset.

If Muchtar does lead her party into the Knesset, she would join a number of other politicians who managed to turn protests into political careers, such as former MKs Stav Shaffir and Itzik Shmuli, who rode the massive 2011 housing protests into the Knesset a few years later.

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