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Yesh Atid (Hebrew: יֵשׁ עָתִיד, lit. There is a Future) is a political party founded by former journalist Yair Lapid in 2012 that seeks to represent what it considers the center of Israeli society: the secular middle class. It focuses primarily on civic, socioeconomic, and governance issues, including government reform and ending military draft exemptions for the ultra-Orthodox.
In 2013, Yesh Atid placed second in the general election, winning 19 seats in the 120-seat Knesset, far more than polls had predicted it would win. It then entered into a coalition led by Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud.
In the 2015 election, the party refused to back Netanyahu and joined the opposition after suffering a significant setback in the polls.
In early 2010 speculation arose in the Israeli media concerning the possibility that Israeli journalist and television figure Yair Lapid, who at the time worked as a news anchor at Channel 2, would end his career in journalism and begin a career in Israeli politics. Initially Lapid dismissed these reports. The Knesset initiated legislation to lessen the influx of Israeli journalists running for a position by prohibiting them as candidates in the first year after they ended their journalist careers.
Despite widespread interest in Lapid, he declined to be interviewed. He gained support through social networks, primarily his Facebook page. Among his official announcements, Lapid said he would not join Kadima or the Israeli Labor Party. In addition, Lapid announced that he would work to change the system of government, have all Israelis conscripted to serve time in the army, and would work to change the Israeli matriculation programme. In early January 2012, Lapid officially announced that he would quit journalism in order to enter politics, and that he would lead a new party.
In April 2012, the proposed new party was reported to be named "Atid". Lapid said that the party would not have any members who were legislators or Members of Knesset (MKs). On 29 April, Lapid registered his party as "Yesh Atid", after the name "Atid" was rejected. On 1 May, the first party conference was held, in which Lapid revealed the "Lapid Programme" ("תוכנית לפיד"): military service for all Israelis. According to the party's rules, Lapid would determine the candidates who would run for a seat in the Knesset, as he would be the one to make the final decisions on political issues and is guaranteed the chairman position of the party during the term of the 19th Knesset and the 20th Knesset. The party was capped at raising 13.5 million shekels for the 2013 Israeli legislative election.
Lapid has said his party is different from his late father's Shinui, in part because of its diversity and inclusion of religious figures. Despite this, analysts have found them somewhat similar.
In the election held on 22 January 2013, Yesh Atid won the second-most number of Knesset seats, with 19 seats. The party was particularly strong in wealthy locales. Yesh Atid's success was viewed as the largest surprise of the election, as pre-election polling gave the party only 11 seats. He joined Netanyahu's governing coalition. Although he focused mostly on domestic and economic concerns of social justice, he had criticized Netanyahu's foreign policy and said he would not sit in a government that is not serious about pursuing peace.
Lapid endorsed Netanyahu for prime minister after the election and on 15 March 2013 the party signed a coalition agreement with the ruling Likud party.
Almost one year after the election, a survey was published showing a continuing trend of decreasing popularity of the party, which would only achieve 10 seats in the Knesset as opposed to the 19 party members who were elected, if elections were held at that time, and with 75% of those polled claiming to be disappointed by Lapid's performance. The finance ministry post came with budgetary handcuffs (cutting spending, raising taxes, and confronting the money demands of the defense ministry) that affected Lapid's popularity.
Run-up to the 2015 election
Before elections in 2015, Lapid separately courted both Tzipi Livni (Hatnuah) and Moshe Kahlon (Kulanu) in an effort to form electoral alliances with their respective parties. Both efforts were unsuccessful: Livni formed an alliance with Labor and Kahlon preferred to run alone. On 8 February 2015, Yesh Atid MK Shai Piron said the party would prefer a coalition led by Isaac Herzog and Livni than one by Netanyahu.
Lapid's criticism while campaigning was mostly of Netanyahu and his Likud party. His campaign continued to emphasize the economy over national security, although he has somewhat departed from his previous almost-exclusive focus on domestic policy and become more vocal, and left leaning, on the peace process. The party focused on middle-class needs and in this respect was very similar to Kahlon's new Kulanu party. However, Lapid's main electoral base is the European-oriented upper-middle class, while Kahlon targeted the lower-middle class. Both Yesh Atid and Kulanu are considered centrist parties, though Yesh Atid, aligned with the Labor-led Zionist Union and Meretz, is sometimes considered left leaning, and Kulanu, a "swing" party not aligned with any bloc, is sometimes considered right leaning.
Yesh Atid won 11 seats in the 20th Knesset, making it the fourth-largest faction.
Party list for the 2013 election
Party list for the 2015 election
11. Mickey Levy
- Changing the priorities in Israel, with an emphasis on civil life – education, housing, health, transport and policing, as well as improving the condition of the middle class.
- Changing the system of government.
- Equality in education and the draft—all Israeli school students must be taught essential classes, all Israelis will be drafted into the Army, and all Israeli citizens will be encouraged to seek work, including the ultra-Orthodox sector and the Arab sector.
- Fighting political corruption, including corruption in government in the form of institutions like "Minister without portfolio", opting for a government of 18 ministers at most, fortifying the rule of law and protecting the status of the High Court of Justice.
- Growth and economic efficiency—creating growth engines as a way of fighting poverty, combating red tape, removing barriers, improving the transportation system, reducing the cost of living and housing costs, and improving social mobility through assistance to small businesses.
- Legislation of Education Law in cooperation with teachers' unions, eliminating most of the matriculation exams, raising the differential education index and increasing school autonomy.
- Enact a constitution to regulate tense relations between population groups in Israel.
- Striving for peace according to an outline of "two states for two peoples", while maintaining the large Israeli settlement blocs and ensuring the safety of Israel.
Yesh Atid is also in favor of
- Creating greater religious pluralism, diversity and equality between Jews and all movements of Judaism within Israel by instituting public funding by the state for the non-Orthodox movements within Judaism, such as the Reform, Conservative, Reconstructionist and Humanistic movements, similar to the public funding of the Orthodox Chief Rabbinate by the state
- Instituting civil marriage in Israel, including between same-sex couples
- Partial operation of public transportation on Saturdays
- Renewing peace negotiations with the Palestinians and halting construction in Israeli settlements
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Official website (Hebrew) (English)