2021 welcomes pleasant era of boredom for Israeli politics - opinion

A dull era is ahead of us, which may actually be good news, if the parties are able to feel the spirit of the public and decide to be boring.

ALTERNATE PRIME Minister and Defense Minister Benny Gantz (left) with justice minister Avi Nissenkorn, in November. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90) (photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH 90)
ALTERNATE PRIME Minister and Defense Minister Benny Gantz (left) with justice minister Avi Nissenkorn, in November. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
(photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH 90)
After three rounds of elections that looked like one long election, with no dramatic differences in the results, it looks like the 2021 election is going to be one of the most fascinating elections seen in our country.
Why is it so interesting? Because it can bring boredom.
A dull era is ahead of us, which may actually be good news, if the parties are able to feel the spirit of the public and decide to be boring.
Let’s detail what the age of boredom entails.
First, the end of the costume era. When Avi Nissenkorn decided to say goodbye to Defense Minister Benny Gantz and retire from Blue and White, he told him in a recent conversation, as reported on Channel 12: “I do not intend to dress up in costume anymore.” He is right.
If there is one thing we have learned in the past elections it is that the costumes do not work. Blue and White disguised itself as the Center-Right, placed in its public relations front Yoaz Hendel and Zvi Hauser, who toured the Samarian hills as part of the campaign, and then was stunned when they refused to enter the government with the support of the Joint List. One costume.
Also in 2019, in the first election, Yisrael Beytenu head Avigdor Liberman ran under the statement that he would support Netanyahu, and then in practice set conditions that undermined his ability to form a government. Another costume that surprised the public.
In the post-costumes age, parties will have to do two things: announce a clear ideology and announce a prime ministerial candidate clearly.
Ideology – Right or Left, for sovereignty or against, for a Palestinian state or against, for a free market or for the Histadrut, for LGBT rights or against, for public transportation on Shabbat or against. And, who knows? we might even get to see the parties advertise, perish the thought, platforms.
Announcing a candidate for prime minister: It should be noted that in this week’s announcements about the opening of a party campaign, both by Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai and Gantz, the parties refrained from saying whom they would recommend as prime minister. They will not be able to last like that. At the end of the costume era, eventually the parties will have to clearly say who their prime minister will be.
The reason is simple: Voting in Israel is personal. The role of the prime minister is a centralized and powerful one. The last election always included two candidates running head-to-head for prime minister, and this should not be ignored. The elections in Israel are so personal that when there were attempts to present a model of joint leadership in rotation, both in the case of Yesh Atid head Yair Lapid and Gantz, and in the case of Tzipi Livni and Isaac Herzog, both Lapid and Livni had to retire from the rotation because the choice must be clear, sharp, and the whole greater than its rotations.
At the end of the costume era, the political system needs to return to homogeneous, clear parties that are not split within themselves to both the Left and Right, that clearly state what their ideology is and who their candidate for prime minister is.
Another characteristic of the age of boredom: we may actually see less negative, and more matter-of-fact, choices. The reason is not that any of the actors became righteous. Don’t worry. The reason is that, according to every study, the issue of division among the people is one of the most worrying parameters for the Israeli public.
All politicians know this. The question is whether everyone will act accordingly. So, surprisingly, we may see more relaxed choices. Add to that the fact that we also saw in the United States that the side whose conduct was more conservative and matter-of-fact won, or let’s put it bluntly: the boring side won. So it may be that these elections will look relatively different, and after a year in which the coronavirus shook people, they’re a little tired and looking for quiet.
Another characteristic of the age of boredom: the end of strategy. The Israeli public has an opportunity to establish a new and strange custom: to vote for whoever you think represents your position, and give up the custom of violating the political balance, according to which every voter sits in his house and decides to vote according to the sum of his hatreds, and not according to the sum of his positions. Precisely such conduct will lead to a more accurate result.
It should be remembered that unlike physics, politics is both an exact science, but also a pure psychology. The situation that emerged in the polls according to which 80 seats go to right-wing parties could not remain. If the public abandons the strategic vote, nature will correct itself. The ratio in the public is no more than 70 seats to the Right. It is not healthy if it looks different in the election results.
Another important parameter for the age of boredom: Return to professional politicians and managers.
The opening of the election campaign brought with it a number of mayors who joined: Ron Huldai, mayor of Tel Aviv, Raz Kinstlich, mayor of Rishon Lezion, Meir Yitzhak Halevi from Eilat; and it is likely that they will not be the last. The rise of Nissenkorn, the entry of Yaron Zelekha, Naftali Bennett’s focus on entrepreneurship, Lapid’s discourse around specific programs – also symbolize a dull spirit in the interesting sense of the word.
Even Gadi Eisenkot’s decision not to run in the election symbolizes a spirit of turning one’s back on “stars” and “Messiahs,” and he seems to have realized this in time.
To sum up: disgust with costumes, disgust with the division of the people, disgust with strategic voting, a return to the people who run, a return to positions and ideology and a clear statement of who the prime ministerial candidate is: these are the materials from which the 2021 election campaign can be made.
According to recent polls, there are about 20 seats sitting on the fence and debating. Be boring.
The writer is a strategic adviser to leaders and election campaigns around the world.