Corridors of Power: Same story, different name?

If you are having a hard time working out what the various parties are offering, you’re not alone.

Yerushalmim candidates 370 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Yerushalmim candidates 370
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Practicing democracy, whether at the national or municipal level, is a thrilling game – once in five years residents have an opportunity to organize, form a party and get the public’s approval to show what they can really do on the municipal political scene.
To that end, political unity, getting together on the basis of the largest common denominator, would seem to be a no-brainer.
However, in the upcoming Jerusalem municipal elections, besides the two main candidates Jerusalem residents will have no fewer than 16 lists to choose from which, at least at first glance, are basically hawking the same wares.
All are promising to improve as many aspects as possible of our life in Jerusalem. (Good intentions are all very well, but implementing them tends to be expensive.) At the end of the day (or rather the morning following the October 22 elections), Jerusalemites will once again wake up to the realization that as in previous elections, too many of their votes have been wasted.
The reason? The seemingly petty jealousies, even approaching wretchedness, among some of the more similar parties, the worst offenders perhaps being the Hitorerut, Yerushalmim and Meretz- Labor lists.
One needn’t be a visitor from another galaxy to be unable to spot essential differences between these three parties, yet they have not only been adamant about not uniting but have even managed to fight each other outright.
Here are some of the most unpleasant examples: Meretz leader Pepe Alalu decided to repeat 2008’s p e r f o r m a n c e and announce his candidacy for mayor, arguing that “Jerusalem needed a non-right wing leader.” Forced by his own party to quit the race, Alalu announced he was calling on residents to cast a blank ballot for mayor, and continued to spread the word, even after many remarked that this would bring to power Moshe Lion, the main right-wing candidate challenging Mayor Nir Barkat.
But there was more. The mistrust between the parties reached an unprecedented level, with reciprocal complaints between Meretz- Labor and Hitorerut focused on the unlawful use of cultural events to – so it was argued – campaign for votes.
“I hope they reach a point where all of them will be prevented by the elections committee from participating in the process. That will really make our life easier,” a member of one of the haredi (ultra-Orthodox) parties told this reporter.
And then the Yerushalmim Party revealed its new slogan, which, in a move clearly aimed at the Meretz-Labor party, suggested that parties with links to national political parties were using the city council as a stepping stone to the national political arena. Dormant fires reignited.
Many residents are asking the question: what’s the real difference between these three parties? Why couldn’t they simply work together? “Ego” answered the haredi candidate, adding candidly that things were “no better in our sector.”
Stay tuned; those juicy stories are soon to come.