Election day guide (and propaganda)

Israeli Elections 2015

Election Day is almost upon us once again, barely two years from the last elections. Voting will begin tomorrow morning at 7 a.m. Israel time and polls will close at 10 p.m.  This year, more than ever before, many Israelis are still undecided about whom to vote for.

For those people, and for any interested readers who cannot vote but are curious about the elections, here are some election guides from the Israeli media.

The Jerusalem Post has an “Election compass” to enable you to decide where your views fall on the Israeli political map. I gave it a try and it wasn’t totally accurate but it gave a good idea of my general direction.

For first-time voters, or those who have forgotten the system (though with such a short gap it’s hard to forget!), the Times of Israel has a handy Users’ Guide.

The JTA gives us a concise summary of Who’s Who in the Elections, grouping the candidates into right, left, center, and the various religious groupings.

The Jerusalem Post has a similar “Guide to the Politically Perplexed” with slightly more detail for those who are interested in the parties’ platforms.

And here is a cute video which describes Israel’s complicated electoral system:

Since Election Day is a national holiday and Israelis suffer from a dearth of bank holidays, the atmosphere feels almost festive, like Independence Day, despite the existential questions that will face the new government .  All the shops and malls are offering huge discounts and bargains, and I’m sure the warm sunny weather will draw thousands of Israelis to parks and nature reserves. However since we are only 2 weeks away from Pesach (Passover) I’m sure many Israelis will take to their dusters and scrubbing brushes and get a head-start on their Pesach cleaning!

Yitzchak “Buji” Herzog and Tzipi Livni of the Zionist Union

Confounding everybody’s plans and expectations, in a last-minute pre-election surprise this evening, Tzipi Livni announced that she will be foregoing the rotation agreement with Yitzchak “Buji” Herzog, in which they had agreed to rotate the Premiership should the Zionist Union (aka the Labour Party) win the elections:

The Zionist Union’s Tzipi Livni on Monday night said she decided to give up her rotation agreement with party leader Isaac Herzog since it would better serve the party’s goal of replacing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud.

In a series of interviews with the Israeli media, Livni said that Likud should look to her decision to learn about “responsible leadership.” She denied the timing of the announcement was “tactical,” but urged voters to elect her party, saying: “I did what I had to do, now it’s your turn.”

Livni also maintained that she had always insisted she would give up the arrangement if it was “an obstacle.”

The Zionist Union dropped the bombshell with less than 12 hours remaining before the election, announcing that Livni would give up the rotation of the premiership with Herzog, an agreement the two made months ago when her Hatnua party merged with his Labor Party.

Addressing criticism from Netanyahu, who denounced the last-minute move as “panicking” and accused Livni and Herzog of “lying” to the public, Livni told Channel 2: “The Likud is getting up and screaming because Netanyahu has never come across a situation where a leader makes decisions for the good of the nation.

“Let them look at us and learn how responsible leaders behave,” added Livni, a former member of Likud.

Netanyahu and members of his party had also claimed that the last-minute move reflected the Zionist Union’s inability to withstand pressure.

It should be noted that Livni’s remaining in the rotation agreement was “an obstacle to removing Netanyahu from power” because she is evidently unelectable, which does not reflect well on her personally. However, I grudgingly give her kudos for her political savvy and sense of responsibility despite the Likud’s protestations. If only all the parties on the right behaved so responsibly towards each other we would never have been in this mess in the first place.

And now for my own little contribution to the hoped-for victory of the right, here are some election propaganda videos. Yes, they all support the right. No, this blog is not a democracy. Wherever did you get such an idea? This here is a one-man (or rather, one-woman) dictatorship. 😉

Below is a video in which Netanyahu was “ambushed” by Channel 2 TV into a live debate with Herzog, something he had refused all along.  Herzog spoiled his chance, even though it was handed to him on a silver platter, by a stupid slip of the tongue which greatly amused Netanyahu – and me. 🙂

Next we have a clever video produced by the national-Zionist “Im Tirzu” movement, where they spliced a real archive video of Israel’s founder and first Prime Minister David Ben Gurion with a spoof interview by leftist socialist Stav Shafir. The results are both funny and sad – sad because the leftists are shocked to hear Ben Gurion’s hard-line stance on withdrawing from Judea and Samaria (no way!), or from Jerusalem (never gonna happen!), the Golan (absolutely not!), and on the right of return of Arab refugees (Ben Gurion disputes the inflated numbers already back in 1967. He would be astounded to hear how many millions of Palestinian “refugees” there are today).

Here’s a funny Likud promotional video (I don’t disagree with the message even though I prefer Bayit Yehudi) – the “Bibi-Sitter”:

And last but definitely not least, here’s Naftali Bennett leading a crowd of about 100,000 in a rousing rendition of “Yerushalayim shel Zahav” (Jerusalem of Gold). The right-wing rally was held on Saturday night in Rabin Square in Tel Aviv and was a huge success by any standards. The only hitch was that Elections Committee disallowed performances by professional singers at political rallies, so Bennett picked up his guitar and serenaded the crowd instead.

Happy Elections Day everyone! May the best party win!

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25 Responses to Election day guide (and propaganda)

  1. Israeli election commercials are hilarious. Are they all that good?

  2. Aridog says:

    Anne…I am sitting here on pins and needles awaiting the election results, then the potential coalitions. Please post the information as it is available. In other words, stop Richard (me) from temptation to drink again … due to frustration, of course 🙂

    Now, back to my coffee.

    • cba says:

      Aridog, I hate to break this to you… although we’ll know the number of MKs each party has by about this time tomorrow, we likely won’t know who will lead the next government for quite a long time.

      With all the “polls are inaccurate” caveats, it’s true that the electorate appears to be very split and the 3rd largest party is currently predicted to be the United Arab List, which is unlikely to go into a coalition with either of the 2 main blocs.

    • cba says:


      “While initial results will be known by around midnight or earlier, the official vote count will not be over before Thursday. Only in six days, next Wednesday, will President Reuven Rivlin receive official and final results of the election.”

    • anneinpt says:

      First I have to resist taking to the bottle myself from nerves!

      You can be sure I’ll update but as cba said, it’ll take a few days till we get the final picture.

    • cba says:

      Polls close in 1/2 hour and then the projections begin. I normally consider 10 pm my bedtime (or rather, my “I really should be getting to bed now” time) but I’m not even going to PRETEND to try tonight.

    • cba says:

      Based on the exit poll projections, I’m breathing a SMALL sigh of relief. But now begins the coalition dickering [you should excuse the expression 🙂 ]

  3. floranista says:

    Wonderful post, annie, I loved the links.

    Do you all have to show ID to vote? Looking forward to updates…

  4. cba says:

    And something else:

    “Everyone’s at the polling station” to the tune of Happy

    • anneinpt says:

      That’s also very clever and amusing. I recognized a few MKs but I wasn’t positive. I saw Shuli Mualem, and Penina Tamno-Shata (sp?) – and was the first guy Yuval Steinitz or Moshe Kachlon? Or both? 😮

  5. Aridog says:

    Anne & CBA …. thanks to your guys, and a few others here, like Earl, I “get it” about how some 25 parties are voted for and it will take time for a coalition, of whatever kind to be formed.

    That said, Netanyahu’s speech to our Congress has had a significant impact here in our new media, from Fox, to CNN, to ABC and even Al Jazeera-America …. for the first in my memory (admittedly sketchy) I notice a distinct up-tick in coverage of the Israeli election coverage. His words are those we needed to hear in the appropriate place, the Congress. He came at the right time and was the right guy to do that job. I think that is a good thing…someone(s) in media nowfeel(s) that the Israeli elections are important to us….which they are. All the stations/outlets I have watched this morning have been all over the elections there….and I have to credit Netanyahu’s visit and speech to our legislative bodies as the seed that generated this renewed interest. Lately we’ve been less than supportive of Egyptian leaders like el Sissi…to our detriment. This must change.

    Another thing….confusing as the the Israeli parliamentary system might be, it causes me pause to consider how we might be better off here with a similar system, which would preclude the gridlock we have between our administration and our Congress under our bi-carmel two party system of today as it practiced today. If gridlock occurred, then a new election wold have to be called. No one person gets the “I won” hubris syndrome and they have to coalesce to form a government, which apparently prevents 4 or 8 year reigns by pedantic narcissistic Presidents. At one time in my lifetime the POTUS and Congress felt it necessary to “make sausage” as it is termed here in order to honestly represent the populations they represent….in the day of JFK and LBJ, however popular or unpopular a POTUS might be, they felt it necessary to work with Congress rather than just point fingers…AND we’d not have pedantic party leaders essentially being executives directing whole parties day to day. The Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act could not have happened without the joining of opinions and interests driven by a strong President.

    In short, chaotic as the Israeli system might be, it has strong features (from my point of view…as one who was active in the 1964-65 changes wrought). We here might seek to replicate it in some fashion…and I don’t mean just a one rebel party spoiler changing an election we have to live with for 4 to 8 years. It might force our voters to not just vote “against” someone, but “for” someone….e.g., some party. Your system forces old dudes like me to re-think our problems today with too much power vested in just a few individuals. That system today has brought us to appear fools to much of the world, and untrustworthy to many other parts.

    Last but not least, the news here is that 60 to 80% of Israeli registered voters will go to the polls, with ID no less. I don’t think that has happened in my life time here, but I might have missed it if it occurred fleetingly.

    I’d be interested in what others, here, think….as I sit here sitting on the pins and needles I mentioned earlier. I’m old and stubborn, but I am capable to changing my thinking now and then.

    • anneinpt says:

      Aridog, you raise a couple of points. Firstly, Iran – it played a bigger part in American politics than it did at home. Israelis know very well the threat facing us, so it kind of wasn’t an issue. It’s so big we have to ignore it or we’ll go out of our minds. At any rate all the parties are more or less on the same page about Iran, despite their propaganda, so it was not really an electoral issue. In fact Bibi’s pushing the issue cost him points I think. People are more concerned about the economy and social issues.

      Re the Israeli electoral system, chaotic is a very polite way to describe it! But it does work for us,more or less. We tried out the presidential system a few years ago and it was a disaster, and we immediately reverted to the old way. It may seem counter intuitive that for such a small country we have so many parties, but we Jews are a very fractious nation and each group needs to feel it has proper representation. So it is likely the fairest way to divide the spoils. One thing that is sorely lacking however is regional or personal representation. If a citizen has a problem he has no one specific to turn to unless he knows an MK or minister. We don’t have a “local congressman” or representative which I think is a bad thing. We need some proper representation and that would bring more accountability. It’s something that has been batted about in the Knesset for years. One day they will bring it in in some form or other.

      You seem surprised that so many Israeli voters will go to the polls, and with their ID “no less”. They have no choice. You HAVE to have ID to vote. We don’t register to vote. Every citizen over the age of 18 can vote nationally and over 17 in local elections. If you can’t get to your local polling station you can vote elsewhere by arrangement. e.g. my parents couldn’t vote in their station because there are stairs, so they voted in a handicapped-accessible station, no questions asked. My son in law voted in the army since he’s an IDF chaplain in a combat unit.

      I don’t know if the Israeli system would suit the US. Each country has its own particular foibles.

      • Aridog says:

        One of the reasons I compliment Netanyahu on his trip here to speak to Congress is precisely because I thought it was a risk for him, politically, in Israel. It’s a rare politician who takes such risks when he can just sit back and watch and gin up his/her base. As you say there, the economy and social issues predominate…as they do here as well.

        The best thing to come out of all this so far is a heightened awareness here of the hazards over there. It is about damn time. The best ally we have, and virtually the only one we can trust our back to (seriously) deserves this attention, not being treated like some back door only servant (another literal occurance here a while back) and I hope it remains in the news when appropriate. Currently local pundits here are speculating on the remote but possible chance that Netanyahu & Herzog could form an omnibus coalition.

        A year ago no one was talking about Israel, now everyone is….heck I was even given a recent copy of the Detroit Jewish News by an acquaintance who knows of my sympathies.

        It is about time we paid attention to where our best interests lie in the ME.

        • Aridog says:

          I should add that another ally we can trust is the Republic of Korea unless they’ve changed radically since I knew so many of them. I need to pay more attention to the ROK …e.g., my fault I’ve not done so recently. IN short, follow my own advice & big mouth 🙂

  6. floranista says:

    Wonderful news tonight.

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