Naftali Bennett greets Bayit Yehudi supporters after the election results were announced.
(photo credit: SAM SOKOL)
The Bayit Yehudi party lost four mandates in Tuesday’s elections, down from twelve seats in the last Knesset, prompting some to call for a rethink of the party’s strategy, Israeli media reported.
According to Yedioth Aharonot unnamed officials within the nationalist faction have registered their disappointment with how their campaign was run, with chairman Naftali Bennett under pressure to ask any MKs who receive ministerial positions to give up their seats to allow candidates from lower on their list to enter the legislature.
“These elections have shown the magician in the political system is not Naftali Bennett,” the newspaper quoted one anonymous MK as saying.
Meanwhile, one of the founders of the party told Arutz Sheva that the party’s electoral showing was “foreseeable.”
“If people left Jewish Home for the Likud because they were afraid of the Left, that means we did not have enough of a connection with them,” the news site quoted Rabbi Daniel Tropper as saying.
“It's not enough to broadcast your agenda and proclaim that you are a right-wing, security-conscious party – you also have to make your stands on social and religious issues clear, and bring voters closer to Torah,” he continued, calling for a “a strategic rethinking.”
“If religious Zionism sees itself as worthy to lead the nation, it must go beyond the small population group it appeals to.”
Bayit Yehudi lost votes both to the newly formed Yachad list of Eli Yishai and former Bayit Yehudi MK Yoni Chetboun and to the Likud, which wooed voters on the right by highlighting polls indicating that the center-left Zionist Union was projected to edge out Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Asked about any internal dissension in the party, a spokesman told The Jerusalem Post
that he foresaw that Netanyahu “will live up to his promise before elections that Bayit Yehudi will be his senior coalition partner and that Naftali Bennett will be given a senior ministry.”
“Most people are waiting to see if we get a good deal before deciding what they think.”
Posting on Facebook, one activist complained that “in two years [I’ve] never heard from the party” and that the party may have “got drunk on success last time” although it “made up for lost time with the SMS's before the primaries.”
Not everyone agreed with that assessment, however,
David Weiss, a Bayit Yehudi voter from Ginot Shomron, said that he did not believe that “ the problem was the campaign. The problem was the election environment.”
“In the last few days before the election the right wing camp panicked. The fear of Herzog getting more seats caused many voters to jump ship at the last second. I talked with many such people. My guess is that this panic caused 3-5 seats worth of Bayit Yehudi voters to vote Likud,” he guessed.