In last-minute effort, parties scramble for every vote

Everyone is screaming "gevalt" with only hours to go before polls close.

April 9, 2019 20:09
3 minute read.
Election Day 2019

Election Day 2019. (photo credit: BEN BRESKY)


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52% of eligibe Israelis voted in the elections until 6 p.m, meaning that large numbers of voters are still to cast their ballot until they close 10 p.m.

Parties from Left to Right have launched last-minute efforts to mobilize their contituents to vote for them, not shying away from all kinds of strategies to make sure they won't lose out on a single vote.

Leading the pack is Benjamin Netanyahu with his "gevalt" campaign that has been launched some time before the weekend and which took up considerable speed on election day, when he claimed to know voter turnout of specific parties.

"I received a dramatic update that there is low turnout in Likud strongholds but that there is high turnout in left-wing strongholds," Netanyahu said. "We have to save the Right. There are only a few more hours."

Netanyahu even went to the Netanya beach to warn people that the Likud will lose if they don't vote.

The Likud also cancelled a campaign event in Ashdod and pushed off the main event in Jerusalem's Heichal Shlomo from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. to emphasize the dramatic message.

Blue and White called an emergency meeting at 6 p.m. because the race is so close, where chairman Benny Gantz is expected to hold a speech.

Second in line and possible future prime minister Yair Lapid told his voters that they shouldn't believe a word that comes out of Netanyahu's mouth.

"The race is close, If you don't get everyone out of the house now, send them to vote Blue and White ... we won't win."

The smaller parties launched their own "gevalt" campaigns mimicking Netanyahu's every move.

The New Right, under Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked's leadership, said that "our situation is bad. We started off well. But then Netanyahu and [Bezalel] Smotrich [of the Union of Right-Wing Parties] attacked us from both sides. We are bleeding votes,” in an English targeted at English voters.

“We need your immediate help. Focus all your votes on the New Right, the letter Nun in the polls," Bennett continued.

Just prior to his message, Shaked sent out a similar message in Hebrew.

The URP used Bennets and Shaked's messages to counter with the same argument.

“Just so its clear, the polls show that they are in excellent shape. They are stable and strong. Even if they had 10 mandates, they would issue the same statement just to get the 11th mandate. If they continue this way, they will cause the religious Zionists to disappear,” a source from the URP said.

Arab turnout was at a record low, leading politicians from Hadash-Ta’al and the United Arab List-Balad to appeal to their voters to head to the ballot boxes on the pretext that their abstention would strengthen right-wing parties and candidates.

Meanwhile, Kulanu leader Moshe Kahlon pleaded his supporters to vote for him.

“We are in the moment of truth,” Kahlon said. “It is not a game. We could wake up tomorrow with a merciless government that lacks socioeconomic sensitivity and does not care about senior citizens, the handicapped or the young families,” Kahlon wrote in a message.

Meretz sent out messages saying that Blue and White were stealing their votes.

"Go out to the ballots, save Meretz," the party wrote. "It's still in our hands."

Orly Levy-Abecassis, leader of Gesher and in danger of not passing the threshold was fighting a fake news campaign which publicized that she had dropped out of the race.

Gesher is getting stronger, so they’re spreading lies against us,” Gesher’s Facebook page said in a post responding to the incidents. “Our answer in the ballot box will be overwhelming.”

Tovah Lazaroff, Tzvi Joffre and Gil Hoffman contributed to this report.

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