Politics: Municipal election winners and losers

The biggest loser in the municipal races is Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman, who put his reputation as the ultimate mover and shaker on the line for Lion and failed to get him elected.

Moshe Lion and Nir Barkat 521 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Moshe Lion and Nir Barkat 521
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Politicians often use upcoming events as excuses to procrastinate and avoid getting things done. Political developments have had to wait for “after the summer,” then “after the holidays,” then “after the Knesset returns from recess.”
The final such event was “after the municipal elections,” which took place Tuesday.
The November 21 Labor leadership race, for instance, was purposely set for a month after the municipal election. The Likud’s long-awaited diplomatic convention could not even be scheduled until the municipal races were over.
There are still runoff races, which will be held November 5 in cities where no candidate won 40 percent of the vote. This will keep national politicians busy campaigning in Petah Tikva, Herzliya, Afula, Kiryat Shmona, and Mevaseret Zion.
But for the most part, the politicians no longer have excuses to postpone getting things done. Deliberations in the Knesset on key legislation like the electoral reform, referendum and haredi draft bills are kicking into high gear.
The diplomatic talks with the Palestinians could cause political tremors over the next several months.
And then there will be a race to replace Shimon Peres as president.
Before all those issues heat up, it is important to look back at the municipal races and determine who are the winners and losers from a national perspective.
Every national party put out a press release with superlatives boasting of achievements in the municipal races. The fact that the races are decided by local factors that had little to do with national politics did not stop the spin doctors.
The Likud pronounced itself the leader in local authorities, Bayit Yehudi said it was now the party of the periphery, and Finance Minister Yair Lapid said the vote proved how deep Yesh Atid’s roots are in Israeli society.
The truth is that all the major national parties can legitimately claim victory because they all gained support in certain places, even though they lost votes in others.
Bayit Yehudi went from 78 city council members across the country to 106, including three mayors in development towns. Yesh Atid. which had nothing on a local level, now has four mayors and representatives on 32 local councils. Even Shas, which lost embarrassingly in Jerusalem and Elad, can console itself knowing that its representation on city councils nationwide rose by 20%.
Other winners include veteran mayors who won by wide margins and have become institutions in their hometowns, like Ron Huldai in Tel Aviv, Yona Yahav in Haifa, Moti Sasson in Holon, and Haim Bibas in Modi’in. In a true show of force, Ruvik Danilovich in Beersheba won more than 92% of the vote in his city.
The losers are not as eager to put out press releases.
But in this election, there were many.
The Knesset proved itself a bad workplace to have on a resume for candidates in local races. The only former MKs who won returned to cities they had led in the past: Former Kadima MKs Ze’ev Bielski in Ra’anana and Ya’acov Edri in Or Akiva. Another former Kadima MK, Ahmed Dabah, is running in a runoff race in Deir el-Asad.
The rest of the current and former MKs fared poorly, including Nitzan Horowitz in Tel Aviv, Haneen Zoabi in Nazareth, Lia Shemtov in Upper Nazareth, Zion Pinyan in Tiberias, and Carmel Shama-Hacohen in Ramat Gan.
Female candidates were losers in general. They no longer control Herzliya or Mitzpe Ramon, but still rule Netanya and Arad. The only new woman elected mayor Tuesday was Yesh Atid’s Lizzy Delricce.
In cities that had races between sectors, residents in the sector that did not win must be counted among the election’s biggest losers, because they will not receive resources that would have come to them had they won. That means Sephardi voters in Elad, Russian immigrants in Upper Nazareth, and non-haredim in Beit Shemesh.
Yesh Atid MK Dov Lipman spoke for many residents in Beit Shemesh when he said the reelection of Shas’s Moshe Abutbul caused him “great sadness.”
The late Shas mentor Rabbi Ovadia Yosef looks like a loser posthumously because he endorsed Jerusalem mayoral candidate Moshe Lion after his death. Party leader Arye Deri, who obtained the endorsement, looks even worse.
But the biggest loser in the municipal races is Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman, who put his reputation as the ultimate mover and shaker on the line for Lion and failed to get him elected. Lion was a long-shot to begin with, so 45% of the vote is actually a great accomplishment for Liberman.
Nevertheless, Liberman’s prediction of a victory by a “knockout” in the Jerusalem race will be shown on TV every time he makes a prediction in the future. He has also predicted countless times that he will emerge unscathed in his ongoing corruption trial.
The verdict will finally be delivered November 6, after 14 long years of investigations and court cases.
He will go to court weakened in the eyes of the public ahead of the decision, which could have significant ramifications on the future of his partnership with Likud – no matter what the ruling is.
In Liberman’s legal battle, the procrastination is finally over, and whether he is a winner or loser in that decision will be immediately clear.