Will Israeli Voters Do the Right Thing?

All opinion polls published on Friday in Israel, the last date on which it is allowed to publish them prior to Tuesday’s general election, give more or less the same results: Isaac Herzog’s Zionist Camp is leading Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud by three to four seats (25-26 seats for Hertzog, 21-22 to Netanyahu), while Aymen Odeh’s Joint List, Yair Lapid’s centrist Yesh Atid and Naftaly Bennett’s extreme right Jewish Home compete for the third place with 11 to 13 seats.

If these are the results on election day, Netanyahu will be able to form a narrow right-wing government with 65 seats (the required majority is 61 seats) but it will be extremely difficult to pull off. Herzog’s path to the prime minister’s office is also not easy, but he will need less manoeuvring to reach this goal. Taking into account the strong trend towards Herzog and against Netanyahu in the last week, it is quite probable that next week Israelis will elect a Labor candidate to head them for the first time in 15 years.

This may seem a normal turn of events as in any functioning democracy around the world. But it is not. Israel is predominantly a right-wing society. In all polls where Israelis are asked to define themselves on the political scale, more than 50 percent respond that they hold right-wing views, 30 percent define themselves in the centre and only 20 percent admit that they belong to the left-wing camp. So how does a man who comes from the dovish wing of the centre-left Labor party stand a fair chance to win the coming elections?

The first answer has to do with personality. The Israeli public, right or left or centre, is fed up with Netanyahu. When he appeared for the first time on Israel’s political scene in the beginning of 1990s, Netanyahu brought with him the personal way of doing politics he learnt during his long stay in the Unites States. Above all, he knew how to use television better than any other leader in Israel in those days. He spoke in short and concise sentences,   expressing simple (often simplistic) ideas and he looked much better than the old generation of Israeli politicians.

- Read more: Will Israeli Voters Do the Right Thing? - Meron Rapoport, Middle East Eye


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