In 2013, the first election it contested in, Yesh Atid placed second, 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; after suffering a significant setback, losing seats, it joined the opposition.
Yesh Atid ran in the 2021 election alone and won 17 seats, the second-largest party in the Knesset. It now makes up the largest party in Israel's governing coalition.
In January 2012, TV anchor Yair Lapid announced that he was leaving journalism for politics.
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 journalism 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 program. 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 Program" ("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—for he would be the one to make the final decisions on political issues—and was guaranteed the position of chairman of the party during the terms of the 19th and 20th Knessets. 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 its inclusion of religious figures. Despite this, analysts have found them somewhat similar.
Ballot paper of the party
Yesh Atid presented centrist populism to its middle and upper-middle class constituency, with anti-incumbent messages and calls for cleaner politics, similar to so-called "new/centrist populist parties" that have arisen in Europe. Yesh Atid voters tend to have higher levels of income and education compared to the general population, and hold moderate views on economic and security issues.
On 9 May 2021, it was reported that Lapid and Yamina leader Naftali Bennett had made major headway in the coalition talks. The anti-Netanyahu coalition has been described as the "Change bloc."
In the election held on 22 January 2013, Yesh Atid won the second-largest share of representation in the Knesset, with 19 seats. The party was particularly strong in wealthy districts. 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 was 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 restrictions (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 the 2015 election, 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, whereas Kahlon targeted the lower-middle class. While both Yesh Atid and Kulanu are positioned as centrist parties, Yesh Atid is almost universally considered to be aligned with the left-leaning political bloc, and Kulanu, sometimes considered right-leaning, is a "swing" party not aligned with any bloc.
Yesh Atid won 11 seats in the 20th Knesset, making it the fourth-largest faction. However, it increased in popularity throughout 2017 and the first months of 2018, rivalling Likud as the biggest party in opinion polls. After the Haredim received favorable draft concessions in a negotiated deal among the government coalition, Yair Lapid denounced the arrangements as an "insult to the IDF" and a "fraud".
In the application submitted to the party registrar, Lapid listed the party's eight goals. According to this statement, these include:
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.
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.
Enacting 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.
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^Toril Aalberg, Frank Esser, Carsten Reinemann, ed. (2014). Populist Political Communication in Europe. Routledge. p. 211. ISBN 9781317224747. Indeed, there are some similarities between Yesh Atid and left-wing populist parties. First, the distinction between the “pure people” and the corrupt political establishment, which characterizes left-wing populism ...CS1 maint: multiple names: editors list (link)
^Engin F. Isin, Peter Nyers, ed. (2014). Routledge Handbook of Global Citizenship Studies. Routledge. ISBN 9781136237966. ... Likud party and its main ally Yesh Atid (literally, 'there is a future'), a new centre-right party that came second, ...
^Max Blumenthal, ed. (2015). The 51 Day War: Resistance and Ruin in Gaza. Verso Books. ISBN 9781784783105. Deif's confidence irked Yair Lapid, the Finance Minister and center-right Yesh Atid Party leader.
^Colin Shindler, ed. (2017). The Hebrew Republic: Israel's Return to History. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 340. ISBN 9781442265974. On the other hand, the broad centre Left of the Zionist Union, Yesh Atid and Meretz only account for another forty seats, while another thirteen represent the united Arab parties.
^Eithan Orkibi, Manfred Gerstenfeld, ed. (2014). Israel at the Polls 2015: A Moment of Transformative Stability. Routledge. p. 86. ISBN 9781351794640. The Centre-Left party Yesh Atid placed a former ISA head at number five, while the Centre-Right Kulanu party awarded number two spot to a Major General in reserves who left the army within the last decade. This was the first time that ...
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^Witt Raczka, ed. (2015). Unholy Land: In Search of Hope in Israel/Palestine. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 381. ISBN 9780761866732. ... Yesh Atid, ideologically close to the center-left, obtained an additional 12 percent of votes, while the rightist Likud just 18 percent. In the nearby community of Kfar Shmaryahu (across from Herzliya Pituach), one of the wealthiest in ...
^Professor and Chair of Political Science Reuven Y Hazan, Reuven Y. Hazan, Alan Dowty, ed. (2021). The Oxford Handbook of Israeli Politics and Society. Oxford University Press. p. 204.CS1 maint: multiple names: editors list (link)
^Eithan Orkibi, Manfred Gerstenfeld, ed. (2018). Israel at the Polls 2015: A Moment of Transformative Stability. Routledge. p. 86. ISBN 9781351794640. ... The Centre-Left party Yesh Atid placed a former ISA head at number five, while the Centre-Right Kulanu party awarded number two spot to a Major General in reserves who left the army within the last decade. This was the first time that ...
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