Rise of the unemployed

The upcoming election in Israel and uncertain economic times present an opportunity for the unemployed to rise up and establish their own political party

Avigdor Liberman sits behind Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on May 29, when the Knesset decided to call new elections on September 17 (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Avigdor Liberman sits behind Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on May 29, when the Knesset decided to call new elections on September 17
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Israel is going to hold a new election in September and there is no guarantee that the situation will improve after the next ballot. A different approach is needed. A political party created and led by the unemployed might bring the long needed change not only to Israel’s political landscape, but also to the rest of the world.
The current unemployment rate in Israel is at 3.5%. At the same time, Israel’s electoral threshold is currently set at 3.25%. The correlation of these two numbers is highly significant. It means that the minimum share of the primary vote that a political party has to achieve before they can enter the Knesset, is about the same as the nation’s unemployment rate. With other words: Israel’s unemployed can vote themselves into the Knesset!
But Israel is not the only nation where such a coup is possible. Austria’s Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and his entire government received a vote of no confidence, which forced Kurz out of office. New elections are planned for September. Austria’s electoral threshold is set at 4% of the popular vote, while the country’s unemployment rate is currently at 5%.However, it is a common practice by government officials to fudge the numbers, so they can boast about the “successful economy.” The actual unemployment rate in Austria fluctuates between 4% and 7%. But even with a low 4% rate, Austria’s unemployed would be able to vote themselves into parliament.
Israel and Austria are no isolated cases. In some nations the unemployment rate even exceeds the electoral threshold by a wide margin. Take Italy for example. The country’s 10% unemployed can easily top the 3% minimum threshold. Many other countries like France, Spain or Greece find themselves in a similar situation. Venezuela is another extreme case. With a staggering unemployment rate of 44%, the jobless man and women of Venezuela represent a strong voting force to be reckoned with. They can effortlessly take over the entire nation with a single election. A political party by and for the unemployed could be established all over the world – at least in theory.

BUT WHY should the unemployed launch their own party and why should anyone vote for them?
Having no work can put you in a tough position within society. There is a certain stigma associated with unemployment. Your peers may think of you as a failure and even you might start doubting yourself. But as most of us know, there are many reasons why someone can lose a job – like old age. Companies consider you already obsolete at the age of 50, replacing you with a younger and cheaper worker, despite decades of loyal service.
Just because somebody has no job doesn’t mean that he or she is incompetent. There are plenty of unemployed people who are more than capable of being good workers and maybe even better politicians – if given the chance.
While many established parties have lost touch with the common people and their struggle to survive, the unemployed are confronted with the harsh reality on a daily base. Being at the bottom of the food chain can certainly give you a different perspective on what really matters in life. A political party organized by the jobless would be able to convey authentic empathy and understanding for the needs and burdens of the common people. They have experienced the struggle at first hand.
Israel’s unemployment rate has dropped to a historic low. In other countries like Austria joblessness is also decreasing. Everything seems to be fine. So why should someone with a job vote for a political party created by and for the unemployed? The answer to this question is quite simple: Unemployment can happen to anyone at any time, anywhere.
As we have learned in 2008, a worldwide recession can have a devastating impact on the labor market. The number of jobless people can rise instantly. Today’s global economy is by far not as stable as many would like to believe. Considering that the global economy system hasn’t really changed since 2008, another collapse in the near future is very likely. In times of economic uncertainty, everyone can become redundant overnight. Therefore, a political party that fights for the interests of the unemployed would not only benefit people without work but also those who currently have a job.
The unemployed should abandon all hope that the political elite will improve the situation. Fair taxation and payment won’t happen under their leadership. Established politicians have no reason to change the system. After all, they are the ones who profit from the status quo.
The idea of a political party by and for the unemployed may sound unconventional or even extreme but it could be the only chance we have to achieve an equitable society. The unemployed have to take their future into their own hands. In the end, what do they have to lose?
The writer is founder of readingsaves.org and author of the ebook Endgame-The Tragedy of Kings and Pawns.