Shelly has big dreams, and she doesn't want you to waste your vote. That was the message Labor Party head Shelly Yacimovich repeated as she arrived at the voting station on Geula Street in Tel Aviv on Tuesday morning, not far from her Tel Aviv home.
“It's not only a dream, we can change the leadership of this country. Just a few mandates and Bibi will not be prime minister and we can have a normal country,” Yacimovich said, boxed in by a phalanx of journalists on one side and about a dozen teenage supporters cheering “Shelly prime minister”, all of them suffering from a serious case of election day fever.
“We can have a just country, a just economy. Bibi is weak today, and a few mandates here or there and he wont be able to be prime minister, this vote is so important!”
Yacimovich also repeated her call for leftist supporters to avoid voting for small parties that are unlikely to pass the voting threshold, saying “those who are going to vote for parties that wont pass the threshold should know that they are voting for Bibi and Lieberman. Every election there are very hip, trendy, cool parties, and people vote for them and then they realize afterwards what they did.”
She also said that she estimated that some 47% of undecided voters will vote for Labor, an assessment she said was based in large part on phone calls made by party activists to voters last night.
For a party that once dominated the Israeli political scene, the atmosphere outside the voting station was underwhelming – a group of around two dozen teenage supporters dancing to Mizrachi club music and chanting “revolution” for a few seconds at a time, while a slow trickle of pedestrians made their way past the celebration and the voting site.
One reporter remarked “this is all they could get on election day? Some high school kids and the “Tahrir Square” music?”
The scene inside was more hectic, where Shelly climbed the stairs to the voting station on the second floor of a high school, where she entered a classroom to the flashes of a battalion of Israeli cameramen, some of whom appeared very close to coming to blows.
Shelly coyly said she would not show which party she's voting for, only that the initials (“emet” or truth in Hebrew) “spell the opposite of lie”.
After she jokingly asked the cameramen “can I vote now” she dropped her card in the slot and filed out, making her way to an appearance at Givat Brenner and later, to the Reading power station, where she will visit activists riding around in the party's “undecided voters” bus. The party says the bus will visit cafes and sites where Israelis are taking the day off and implore them to vote Labor, and presumably, to not “waste” their votes on smaller parties.