Netanyahu is seeking a fourth term and is playing the security card for all its worth. It has taken him to the US Congress, for a pre-emptive strike against any American-Iranian nuclear deal but that seemed to have backfired, because it is seen as an insult specifically to Pres. Obama and generally as an interference in the affairs of its closest ally and that does not ode well fore the next two years ( that Obama has in office). Also he was criticized by the former head of Mossad, who called his position on Iran, "b...s...", and also said he had to talk Netanyahu out of attacking Iran a few years ago. Israeli television also did not carry his speech live and many in he media were critical. especially about his " interference".
Netanyahu is also blamed for the stalled peace talks and has been accused of sabotaging the talks with continued expansion of settlements. He has failed to deal with economic problems, which have gotten worse, with the economy tanking, cost of living steadily increasing, living standards dropping, people unable to afford housing and the "flight" of many young people to Germany and other places for educational and job opportunities. He has not bee talking about the economy, focusing instead on security issues, especially the US/Germany/ Britain, Russia, France/ China/ EU nuclear talks with Iran.
The main threat in this election is from the Zionist Union, created by Isaac Herzog, of the Israeli-founding Labor party and Tzipi Livni of Hatnuah ( who plan to rotate as PM, should they form the government). They brought down the last government over the attempt of Netanyahu and Naftali Bennett ( Bayit Yehudi.....Jewish Home, rabid anti- Palestinian and pro- religious settlers, who want no Palestinian state), to pass a law calling Israel " the nation-state of the Jewish people". They both want to negotiate with the Palestinians.
The there is the Joint Arab List of Ayman Odeh. This is first time that Arabs living in Israle have come together to form one party. It was a question of electoral survival, after the Knesset, pushed by right wing parties passed a law raising the threshold for winning a seat from 2% to 3.5%. The Arabs make up about 20% of the Israeli population, but have never won a proportionate amount of seat because of splintering into any small parties. Now they are aiming to win at least 15 seats, which will put tem I a position of power broker, which may see them side with Zionist Union.
In the last election Yair Lapid, of the center-center, successfully appealed to the middle class, was very critical of Netanyahu and of the Ultra-Orthodox's exemption from military draft and their dependence on welfare and won 20 seats. He will ot do as well this time as some of his votes will go to Zionist Union, but he will be willing to back them forming a government. The leftist Meretz, led by Zahava Gal-on, who is opposed to Netanyahu's foreign policy and who opposed the Gaza war, is expected to keep its 6 seats and will join Zionist Union
Yisrael Beitenu ( Israel is our Land), the party of Soviet -born Israelis and led by Avigdor Lieberman, won 13 seats in the last election, but scandals ad police investigations, will lose most of his seats. So too will Shas, the Ultra-Orthodox party of Aryeh Deri, who was jailed for bribery and whose 10 seats, may well go to a Shas faction, Yahad. United Torah, with 7 seats defends the draft exemption and welfare and will retain its seats.
That leaves Naftali Bennett, Bayit Yahudi...Jewish Home and his 11 seats. This is the party of the religious settlers. Strongly pro-settlement and anti-Palestinian, it wants to bring back the Jewish State Bill, his condition for supporting a Netanyahu-led coalition.
The proportional representation electoral system, may be very democratic, from the standpoint of representation; may allow for those who may not ordinarily be heard, to be heard; may allow for minorities to be represented, but it leads to splintering; to a multi-party system, that sees too many parties going it alone, rather than forming partnership with others and thus to no party being able to form a majority government. It creates a market-place, where tradings between and among parties go on, finally ending with a hodge-podge of parties coming together to form a weak, fractious, unstable government, which is at the whims of its several parts. It results in the tail wagging the dog.
This is what awaits the Israeli voters tomorrow.