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Three notes on Israel’s themeless, excitement-free elections

by Shmuel Rosner

December 18, 2012 | 6:40 am

A voting booth in Israel (Photo: Reuters)

We must apologize for bombarding you with election-related news and views. Back in September-October it was all about the U.S. election, and now it's all about Israel's. Back to post-election normality around March.


1. What are the elections about?

Note this: We've had three guests thus far in our series of interviews with Israelis politicians from three different parties – right, left and center. The right-winger, Naftali Bennett, says the election is about "Values. Restoring Israel's Jewish identity". Nitzan Horowitz, the left-winger from Meretz, says "it's a combination of different topics" and doesn't really pick one main topic: "the security and peace issue is no doubt a major issue, as always by the way, but also social economic issues and issues of religious coercion and other matters". Meir Sheetrit, the centrist from Tzipi Livni's makeshift Movement admits that "people are more worried about their economic situation than they are about the peace process". I think at this point we might as well admit it: this cycle has no real issue to talk about. "Values" and "other matters" and "all of the above" and such answers give one the feeling that the only issue in this election is to get it over with.

 

2. The next coalition

Netanyahu will have the mandate to form the next coalition as you can clearly see in our new update of the Israel Poll Trends tracker. Prof. Camil Fuchs, the man in charge of the graph, notes that the polls included were all taken before Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman's resignation. The Likud-Beiteinu-right-religious bloc maintains its lead. As Bennett – an emerging major political player in Israel – says in our interview: "Undoubtedly, Benjamin Netanyahu will be the next Prime Minister of Israel, as he is poised to win by a landslide. The only question is: who will influence him, and what'll be the government's DNA".

 

3. Is this election boring?

No election is boring, but with the winner pretty much decided, most of the interesting happenings are between the secondary parties and within the blocs. Will Bennett's party come out third – after Labor, or fourth – after Labor and Shas, or fifth – if Livni somehow manages to get something off the ground. Is Lapid rising or falling? Will Kadima really disappear having been the largest party just four years ago? No election is boring, but this cycle looks more like 2003, when Ariel Sharon defeated Mitzna by a landslide, than the 2009 Netanyahu vs. Livni match.

Our updated poll trend tracker is here.

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