Go vote!

We appeal to every voter to exercise their democratic right on Election Day – which is a public holiday for this very purpose. So exercise yours – go out and vote!

By
April 8, 2019 21:29
3 minute read.
Elections 2019: Who will Israel choose?

Elections 2019: Who will Israel choose?. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

More than 6.3 million of Israel’s almost nine million citizens are eligible to vote in today’s crucial national elections – and with a record number of some 40 parties, the choice is not an easy one. The top race is tight between the Likud, led by incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and the new Blue and White Party, led by former chief of staff Benny Gantz and former finance minister Yair Lapid. Gantz chose to focus his campaign on Netanyahu’s alleged corruption, referring to the attorney-general’s recommendation that he be indicted in several cases pending a hearing, while Netanyahu assailed Gantz repeatedly for his lack of political experience.

Despite the often vicious ad hominem attacks during the campaign, their differences on key issues are substantive. For example, Netanyahu said this week that he plans to annex settlements in Judea and Samaria, while Gantz appears to favor a two-state solution, even if he won’t say so publicly.

President Reuven Rivlin on Sunday criticized the candidates for instilling in voters “a sense of fear.” For those who are afraid, uninterested or undecided – and polls indicate that there may be a million Israelis in this category – we urge you to make every effort to go and vote according to your conscience.

What party to vote for is really up to each individual – and as Rivlin said, you shouldn’t be influenced by anyone trying to fear-monger or pressure you in any way. For example, should you vote for a large party (Both Likud and Blue and White are polled to get around 30 seats each in the 120-seat Knesset) or a smaller one?

While it may be healthy for Israel’s democracy to have two big parties like they do in the US and Britain – as the Israel Democracy Institute argues – it might be the vote for the smaller parties that ultimately determines whether Rivlin gives Netanyahu or Gantz the first opportunity to form a coalition. And despite the acrimonious campaign, there is also the possibility that Netanyahu and Gantz might join forces in a unity government. In Israeli politics, as in the country itself, almost anything is possible.

The most recent polls found that the so-called right-wing bloc led by Likud was bigger than the center-left bloc led by Blue and White. But polls are often wrong – especially in Israel.

Here’s a question you may ask yourself if you want to vote for a smaller faction: Which party do you think is essential for the next prime minister to bring into his government – from Tamar Zandberg’s Meretz on the Left to the New Right led by Ayelet Shaked and Naftali Bennett? Or do you prefer URP – the former Jewish Home – or Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon’s Kulanu?

As a traditional Labor supporter, you may want to keep Avi Gabbay’s party on the map, or perhaps you’ll take a gamble with Moshe Feiglin’s Zehut Party, which promises to be the surprise of this election.

Some of the smallest parties are straddling the threshold of 3.25% – such as Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu – and you may consider voting for one of them, if they represent your ideology and interests.

Don’t forget, though, that in the last elections in 2015, only 10 of the 25 lists that ran made it into the Knesset. So you might want to cast your vote for a party that has a realistic chance. This is just another consideration.

In a democracy like Israel, it is the people’s civic duty to vote. The people decide who will govern them. Staying home and not voting should not be an option. As American political scientist Larry Sabato correctly said, “Every election is determined by the people who show up.”

In the last elections, the turnout was relatively high – 72.3%. You can make a difference and help ensure an even higher turnout to elect Israel’s 35th government in 71 years.

We appeal to every voter to exercise their democratic right on Election Day – which is a public holiday for this very purpose. So exercise yours – go out and vote!


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