Politicians often use upcoming events as excuses to procrastinate and avoid
getting things done. Political developments have had to wait for “after the
summer,” then “after the holidays,” then “after the Knesset returns from
The final such event was “after the municipal elections,” which
took place Tuesday.
The November 21 Labor leadership race, for instance,
was purposely set for a month after the municipal election. The Likud’s
long-awaited diplomatic convention could not even be scheduled until the
municipal races were over.
There are still runoff races, which will be
held November 5 in cities where no candidate won 40 percent of the vote. This
will keep national politicians busy campaigning in Petah Tikva, Herzliya, Afula,
Kiryat Shmona, and Mevaseret Zion.
But for the most part, the politicians
no longer have excuses to postpone getting things done. Deliberations in the
Knesset on key legislation like the electoral reform, referendum and haredi
draft bills are kicking into high gear.
The diplomatic talks with the
Palestinians could cause political tremors over the next several
And then there will be a race to replace Shimon Peres as
Before all those issues heat up, it is important to look back
at the municipal races and determine who are the winners and losers from a
Every national party put out a press release with
superlatives boasting of achievements in the municipal races. The fact that the
races are decided by local factors that had little to do with national politics
did not stop the spin doctors.
The Likud pronounced itself the leader in
local authorities, Bayit Yehudi said it was now the party of the periphery, and
Finance Minister Yair Lapid said the vote proved how deep Yesh Atid’s roots are
in Israeli society.
The truth is that all the major national parties can
legitimately claim victory because they all gained support in certain places,
even though they lost votes in others.
Bayit Yehudi went from 78 city
council members across the country to 106, including three mayors in development
towns. Yesh Atid. which had nothing on a local level, now has four mayors and
representatives on 32 local councils. Even Shas, which lost embarrassingly in
Jerusalem and Elad, can console itself knowing that its representation on city
councils nationwide rose by 20%.
Other winners include veteran mayors who
won by wide margins and have become institutions in their hometowns, like Ron
Huldai in Tel Aviv, Yona Yahav in Haifa, Moti Sasson in Holon, and Haim Bibas in
Modi’in. In a true show of force, Ruvik Danilovich in Beersheba won more than
92% of the vote in his city.
The losers are not as eager to put out press
But in this election, there were many.
proved itself a bad workplace to have on a resume for candidates in local races.
The only former MKs who won returned to cities they had led in the past: Former
Kadima MKs Ze’ev Bielski in Ra’anana and Ya’acov Edri in Or Akiva. Another
former Kadima MK, Ahmed Dabah, is running in a runoff race in Deir
The rest of the current and former MKs fared poorly, including
Nitzan Horowitz in Tel Aviv, Haneen Zoabi in Nazareth, Lia Shemtov in Upper
Nazareth, Zion Pinyan in Tiberias, and Carmel Shama-Hacohen in Ramat
Female candidates were losers in general. They no longer control
Herzliya or Mitzpe Ramon, but still rule Netanya and Arad. The only new woman
elected mayor Tuesday was Yesh Atid’s Lizzy Delricce.
In cities that had
races between sectors, residents in the sector that did not win must be counted
among the election’s biggest losers, because they will not receive resources
that would have come to them had they won. That means Sephardi voters in Elad,
Russian immigrants in Upper Nazareth, and non-haredim in Beit
Yesh Atid MK Dov Lipman spoke for many residents in Beit Shemesh
when he said the reelection of Shas’s Moshe Abutbul caused him “great
The late Shas mentor Rabbi Ovadia Yosef looks like a loser
posthumously because he endorsed Jerusalem mayoral candidate Moshe Lion after
his death. Party leader Arye Deri, who obtained the endorsement, looks even
But the biggest loser in the municipal races is Yisrael Beytenu
leader Avigdor Liberman, who put his reputation as the ultimate mover and shaker
on the line for Lion and failed to get him elected. Lion was a long-shot to
begin with, so 45% of the vote is actually a great accomplishment for
Nevertheless, Liberman’s prediction of a victory by a
“knockout” in the Jerusalem race will be shown on TV every time he makes a
prediction in the future. He has also predicted countless times that he will
emerge unscathed in his ongoing corruption trial.
The verdict will
finally be delivered November 6, after 14 long years of investigations and court
He will go to court weakened in the eyes of the public ahead of
the decision, which could have significant ramifications on the future of his
partnership with Likud – no matter what the ruling is.
legal battle, the procrastination is finally over, and whether he is a winner or
loser in that decision will be immediately clear.