Seniors' party hopes for youthful voters

"We went to Tel Aviv University and amazingly the young people voted for us. They are only students!"

elections06.article.298 (photo credit: )
(photo credit: )
Gil party leader Rafi Eitan says that in spite of tremendous political apathy, the party has found support amongst Israeli youth. Low voter turnout may also help the party at the ballot. The new-found base of support has motivated Eitan, 80, to continue emailing, calling and conducting interviews in anticipation for Tuesday's election. "We went to Tel Aviv University and amazingly the young people voted for us. They are only students!," said Eitan boasting about the party's unexpected three-seat victory in Tel Aviv University's mock-elections last Monday. No official poll has been released to support these claims, however Eitan says that a combination of factors contributed to Gil's current standing. Eitan believes support for Gil is rooted primarily in the fact that his party is free of the corruption typical of Israeli politics. "Our people, you could take them one by one, all of them are clean, pure people," Eitan told The Jerusalem Post. "The young people felt that by supporting us, they support themselves. They can relate [our platform] to their fathers, mothers, grandfathers, and grandmothers. They understand what happens if a person gets old with no income." This, along with other political realities, has helped boost Eitan's confidence. "This year people don't know who to vote for. Young people don't know what to do, and many people say they will put blank votes [in the ballot boxes] in protest. Instead of voting for nothing, many people will vote for us," he said. As a party, Gil has decided to focus solely on its platform and not involve itself in Israeli politics at large. Gil's platform includes a number of objectives, all geared towards Israel's retirees and senior citizens, including: establishing equal cost elderly-appropriate neighborhoods, including financial coverage for nursing homes and assisted living complexes within national health insurance, ensuring pensions for all Israeli citizens, improving overall medical care for the elderly and shortening waiting lists. Ruta Danino, founder of the non-profit organization turned political party, believes that the voting public recognizes Gil's commitment and determination to succeed, and it is a welcome altenative for Israeli voters. "This is the first time, or maybe the second, that it [senior citizen's issues] are not part of a whole party. Gil is new, it is a social party to help retirees and improve their social position by pushing legislation and providing them with help at home," she said. "That is something new and unique for political parties in Israel."