Thirteen parties, 527,627 eligible voters, 31 seats (including the mayor), 725,000 residents - and one city, Jerusalem. Eleven days left until "E" day, and the local electoral campaign seems to finally be waking up. The intersections in the city are once again taken over by supporters of one or another of the mayoral candidates, who on more than one occasion have turned teasing into outright verbal attacks on their opponents from across the street. Meanwhile, more posters of the various parties that are running have begun to appear in the streets and on the buses. The latest controversy is no doubt the banning of women's pictures from electoral posters on the buses, recently discovered by the Wake Up Jerusalemites party, which was prohibited from portraying the two women on its roster. One of them, Rachel Azaria Fraenkel, is the head of the party. Azaria Fraenkel, herself modern Orthodox, was shocked to learn that Cana'an, the company that won the tender to publish all the election posters on Egged buses in the city, was not even acting in accordance with the law but merely as a precaution, "to prevent acts of vandalism by the haredim who wouldn't accept women's pictures on buses." Since the 1983 local elections, voters for local city council and mayoral elections have been voting twice on the day, having the liberty to choose a mayor and a party that are not necessarily from the same "political base." The original idea was to allow voters to support the best available candidate, while also being able to choose a party closer to their personal preference. So on November 11, voters will have two choices to make: one for the candidate they want to send to Kikar Safra, and one for the party they believe will best represent their interests. Some of the parties officially endorse one of the mayoral candidates, while others have preferred to remain discreet on the matter to leave the door open for any coalition option. So what are these parties and who is behind them? According to the Interior Ministry, in addition to the four mayoral candidates - Arkadi Gaydamak, Meir Porush, Nir Barkat and Dan Birron - residents will have a choice of 13 approved parties. Six of them represent national parties: Shas, United Torah Judaism, National Union-National Religious Party, Meretz, Israel Beiteinu and Likud. The seven other parties are local or connected to one of the mayoral candidates, such as Gaydamak's Social Justice and Barkat's Jerusalem Shall Succeed. Mayoral candidate Dan Birron represents the Green Leaf party, which is also a national party, but is not represented in the Knesset. The next mayor will be the candidate who gains the most votes, but must obtain at least 40 percent, otherwise there will be a second round. The mayor is elected whether or not he succeeds in forming a coalition: but if the mayor heads a minority coalition and fails to pass the budget, he can be ousted. Once elected, the new mayor begins his role immediately. The threshold for a seat is 8,000 votes. In the 2003 elections, 24,540 votes were "lost" by lists that were unable to obtain at least one seat. In these elections at least five lists have a low chance of winning seats. United Torah Judaism By press time, In Jerusalem could not obtain the names on the Ashkenazi haredi list. Needless to add, neither this list nor its Sephardi counterpart, Shas, have women candidates. But one thing has already become apparent - the "strong man" of the party on the actual council, Deputy Mayor Yehoshua Pollack, is evidently moving to the Knesset. At the head of the party will stand mayoral candidate Meir Porush, and right after him is Yossi Pindrus, former mayor of Betar Illit, followed by Avraham Feiner. Shas No changes expected here. Shlomi Attias will continue to head the party, followed by Eli Simhayof, current deputy mayor and head of the finance committee. City Council member Shmuel Yitzhaki, an outspoken oppositionist even inside his own party, has moved up to third place. Shas candidates promise that all their efforts will be focused on "a true representation of the neighborhoods, elimination of discrimination, support to the underprivileged residents and strengthening of Jewish tradition, education and character of the city." Meretz "We shall put an end to the haredization of the city," announce the campaign posters and the party candidates. Meretz is headed by veteran city councillor Pepe Allalu (once depicted in the campaign as Herzl and once as Che Guevara). He is followed by Meir Margalit, social neighborhood activist Laura Warton, and Fuad Sliman, an Arab citizen and workers' union member at the nuclear medicine department of Hadassah-University Medical Center. Besides the Orthodox issue, Meretz vows to "fight for the environment, strive for the education portfolio and promote affordable housing for all in the city." During Teddy Kollek's day, Meretz was part of the coalition, promoted the public education issue and ensured public budgets for culture in the city. But it has not been part of the coalition since 1993. NU-NRP Here we face a real generation change. Shmuel Shkedi, the veteran head of the party, and Mina Fenton are out. In are representatives of the more right-wing sector: Aryeh King, manager of the unofficial Israel Lands Fund, and Meir Deutsch. The party promises to "strengthen the city and its Jewish identity, apply the rules of construction permits equally among Jews (haredi and secular) and Arabs, promote the Zionist identity of the city and strengthen its religious Zionist education system. Israel Beiteinu Latecomers to the campaign, the local party is headed by Masha Novikova, who made aliya from Moscow 20 years ago. A computer teacher at ORT college, Novikova was seriously wounded in the Bus 19 bombing four years ago. Her desire to bring increased security to Jerusalem is one of the main reasons for her decision to run for city council. Second on the list is Didi Herskovitch, a representative of the young religious Zionists. Likud This party considers the local elections a test for its real situation on a national level, looking ahead to February's general election. That said, with all those involved in the creation of the Likud's list for city council, the party doesn't have a candidate for mayor. The list is headed by former city councillor Elisha Peleg. Peleg, who challenged Ehud Olmert in the 1998 elections and lost (as well as a large sum of his own money) moved to Beersheba (where he served as city attorney) and is now making his comeback to local politics. At his side is Vladimir Shklar, an oleh from Russia and former director of the sports and youth department of the municipality. The party's slogan is "to strengthen the unity and security of the city of Jerusalem as the sole, undivided capital." Social Justice This party was created by Gaydamak - who announced recently that he will do his job (if elected) for one shekel a year. He says he will see to it that the status of women in the city is improved, he will promote culture, arts, tourism and sports in the capital, will enlarge and improve all the infrastructures of the city, will preserve the environment and ensure freedom of religion for all - in addition to a reform in the local education system and support for affordable housing for young couples and an expansion of the social services provided by the municipality for underprivileged families. And on top of that, he will ensure the security of all the residents. Behind Gaydamak on the list are deputy mayor and former Likud representative Yigal Amedi, Barkat's former party member Avi Kostelitz and former Meretz member Rali Ben-David. For the Sake of Jerusalem Meir Turgeman, city council member of the same party and former member of Barkat's list to the council, is presenting a list of local social activists from various backgrounds and fields, half of them women. Turgeman, himself long-time chairman of the neighborhood administration of Gilo and head of the forum of all the chairmen, is a well-known social activist, especially remembered for his action to support the Yad Labanim association to obtain larger budgets from the municipality during Lupolianski's term. And indeed, Eli Dahan, the chairman of the association of bereaved families, is his No. 2. Others on the list include two olim - one from Georgia and a young Ethiopian social activist - a representative of the Emunah women's organization and a volunteer for several cultural projects for the handicapped. Green Leaf Led by mayoral candidate Dan Birron, the list for city council includes activists for freedom of the individual in all fields - including the right to use marijuana on a personal level - such as young Ohad Shem-Tov. The party says it will promote freedom and understanding among all the residents in the city, regardless of their nationality or personal beliefs. Or-Yerukim This party is led by the former Shinui city councillor Dalia Zommer, who is joined by Gregory Tamar, an oleh from Russia. The party will strive to "deliver the city and the municipality from haredi corruption and religious coercion and will promote and protect nature, the environment, public transportation, green energy and preservation of historical sites and buildings. On the Map A group of residents of the Pisgat Ze'ev neighborhood, fed up with the traffic jams to and from their quarter, joined local newspaper editor Yael Antebi and are running for the city council. Jerusalem Shall Succeed Leading mayoral candidate Nir Barkat's list for city council. The party consists of various local activists, businessmen and at least two "stars" - Naomi Tsur, former head of the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel's Jerusalem branch and a leading figure in green and environmental issues; and Yakir Segev, chairman and founder of Ruah New Spirit, an organization working among students, and leader of the student union. Wake Up Jerusalemites Perhaps the most interesting local list running for city council is a joint list of young, mostly secular Jerusalemites and a group largely made up of modern Orthodox young couples and families. As soon as the Wake Up Jerusalem party and the Jerusalemites list realized they shared a vision and goals, they merged. Jerusalemites was founded by Azaria Fraenkel, who for many years headed Mavoi Satum, a nonprofit that fights for the rights of agunot (women whose husbands refuse them a divorce). Wake Up Jerusalem was created by Hebrew University graduates Ofer Rabinovitch and Merav Cohen, who have been involved in the struggle against the ghost-town phenomenon and are dedicated to increasing job opportunities for university graduates. The merged group has already enrolled the support of 12,000 residents who have pledged to vote for them, and could turn into the biggest surprise of these city council elections. As of this week, the party is endorsing Barkat.

Relevant to your professional network? Please share on Linkedin

Think others should know about this? Please share