Party lists for March vote must register by Thursday at 10 p.m.

After filing their slates for the March 23 election by Thursday at 9 p.m. Israel’s parties are are prohibited from making changes. Any mergers must therefore be sealed by then. Although 20 parties are potentially bidding for election, Israel’s fourth in two years, six are likely to drop out over disappointing poll ratings below the 3,75pc threshold, or save themselves by mergers.  Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s Kachol Lavan, which is one of that group, nevertheless handed in an independent slate on Wednesday.

Although not long ago, Labor was considered a goner, it gained high buzz (an estimated 5 seats and counting) under a new leader, Meirav Michaeli, who ordered a primary for a new slate based on strict feminist principles. Listed are two new parties, Likud breakaway Gideon Saar’s New Hope, which polls an estimated 14 Knesset seats; and Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai’s The Israelis, which is not expected to survive on its own. merger.

Likud is projected to lead the pack again, although PM Binyamin Netanyahu is expected to have to fight for a 61-majroirty bloc. Chasing hotly behind him are three rivals Yair Lapid’s opposition Yesh Atid, New Hope, and Naftali Bennet’s Yamina. Certain new, still hypothetical, combinations could potentially place them in the driving seat.

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