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(photo credit: [file])
Ten mandates from the voters is a mark of failure, National Union and National Religious Party leader Benny Elon told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday. "If we have only 10 mandates, I'll feel that we didn't succeed," Elon said.
Elon was therefore not thrilled by results of the Post poll showing his party holding steady at 9-10 mandates for the third straight week. Other polls put his party at an even lower 8-9 mandates. No poll this week gave the party a clear 10 mandates.
However, Elon was not discouraged by the results.
"The real work begins today," he said as he stood in the middle of Jerusalem's Mahane Yehuda market, where he campaigned at mid-day with MKs from his party in hopes of getting 15 mandates.
Holding a paper cup of juice he had received from a vendor, MK Effi Eitam said: "See with what love we are received - this is the real poll." Flanked by supporters waving orange flags, the MKs shook hands and asked for votes, while tasting watermelon and eyeing strawberries, cheese and dried fruit.
"The last two polls have not been good for us," Elon said.
But he still believes that the results will turn around in the next 12 days as the result of an intense face-to-face program his party is conducting whereby activists are going house-to-house soliciting votes.
Watching Elon, one enthusiastic bystander yelled out, "Ooh, aah, here comes the next prime minister," which rhymes in Hebrew.
Listening to the vote of support, Elon said he believed a strong right-wing bloc can still form a government with a coalition consisting of the Likud, Shas, UTJ, Israel Beiteinu and his own party.
Elon said he wouldn't sit in a coalition with either Kadima or Likud unless they changed the principles of their platforms with respect to territorial concessions. He also urged voters not to support far right-wing leader Baruch Marzel's Jewish National Front Party, which he said, was unlikely to make it into the Knesset. Those votes wasted on Marzel would mean another mandate for the NU-NRP, Elon said.
"A vote for Marzel is a vote for Kadima," he said. The responsible thing for Marzel to do is to quit, he added.
But while the delegation of MKs received many warm handshakes, there were more undecided and uninterested voters than supporters in the market.
Watching the parade of candidates wearing orange stickers declaring the rise of a new right wing, Adar Moor said that as a secular right-winger, she wasn't impressed by the mostly religious politicians. "It's frustrating that there is no one who represents me on the Right," she said.
Moor said she didn't buy the party's argument that it appealed to both secular and religious. She's considered Israel Beiteinu, but feels it is too heavily identified with the Russian community.
Last election she voted Likud, but this time around, she said, she's thinking of not voting at all.
"Bibi [Likud party leader Binyamin Netanyhau] betrayed me, [Prime Minister Ariel] Sharon betrayed me," she said. What's the point of voting if the politicians don't pay attention to the will of the people, she asked, adding that she didn't want it on her conscience yet again that she put in place politicians whose actions she rejects. "I prefer to sit home and watch television," she said.
Yitzhak Haim shook hands with the politicians, even though he has no plans to vote for them or for anyone. "I'm fed up with all the corruption," said Haim, who in the last election voted Likud. Before the elections the politicians always came to the market, making promises, and the moment they were in office they forgot about the voters, he said.
Standing behind his cheese counter, Shmuel Tzidkiyahu was among those who shouted out his support for Elon. But after the delegation passed, he admitted he was still on the fence between the Likud and the NU-NRP."I'm afraid the religious presence won't be honored in the Likud so I'm leaning to the National Union, but I'm still not sure," he said.