No on knows how today's election will end, and how many voters will remain undecided until the moment of truth when they are alone behind the curtain. Going by the party activists, who usually have a good sense of what is really going on, we may be in for a few surprises once the votes are tallied.
The activists believe that the bottom line will remain unchanged — the next prime minister will be Benjamin Netanyahu. This has been the working assumption throughout the entire election. Everyone knew it, from Habayit Hayehudi head Naftali Bennett to Hatnuah leader Tzipi Livni. Now, everyone is looking toward the future. The election is behind them. The makeup of the next coalition is ahead.
Starting today, there will be no more attacks, no more jibes, no more insults. Every party wants to be the first to get the phone call from Netanyahu, inviting them to join the coalition. Likud-Beytenu is still hopeful that, despite the dip in the polls, in the end, when Likud supporters step behind the curtain, their hands will tremble and automatically find the Likud slip and place it in their envelope.
The next coalition, if you believe the polls, will not be Netanyahu's dream lineup. It will be easier to assemble than the last one, but Netanyahu wanted this time to be different. He did not want to be in any way dependent on the small parties.
But even before the coalition is assembled, the next battle will be over President Shimon Peres' ear. If Likud-Beytenu ends up getting substantially more seats than all the other parties, Peres' choice of who assembles the coalition will be obvious. If not, Netanyahu may make all kinds of promises and commitments to various parties, before the coalition negotiations even begin, so that they recommend to Peres that he be tasked with assembling the coalition.
The party that gets the first phone call from Netanyahu will depend on the number of seats each party wins, but Shas, Habayit Hayehudi, United Torah Judaism, Yesh Atid and Kadima (if they make it into the Knesset) should get their suits ready for possible entry into the coalition.