Yehudit Shimshi had fire in her eyes after she voted in a leafy Israeli suburb on Tuesday, but resignation in her voice.
Her hope for an end to the “reign” of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was forlorn, she admitted.
“There is a king sitting on the throne in Israel and I want to dethrone him,” the 58-year-old retired elementary school teacher said, her gaze intense. “But it looks like that won’t happen,” she quickly added, looking away.
Shimshi did not say how she voted on the balmy winter morning in Maccabim, which lies so close to the occupied West Bank that Muslim calls to prayer from a Palestinian village sometimes intrude on music pouring from Israeli joggers’ earphones.
But she said social and economic issues had been paramount for her in an election campaign that has largely ignored the frozen Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
Opinion polls have signalled that the right-wing Netanyahu, who promises a “strong Israel” after uprisings in the Arab world and Iran’s nuclear programme raised many Israelis’ security fears, will win a third term.
“There are some scary things out there in the world and Bibi has an eye on them,” said Tahg Adler, 36, a recruiting manager from the central city of Modi’in, using Netanyahu’s nickname.
But the man the media called “King Bibi” after he expanded his government last May into a short-lived “grand coalition”, has watched his lead narrow in the polls in recent weeks.
Jewish Home, a far-right party led by high-tech millionaire Naftali Bennett, has been drawing Netanyahu’s traditional supporters away from the prime minister’s Likud party, according to the surveys.