Update: turn out up so far. We’ll see if all those saying they wouldn’t vote are changing their mind. Have just got back from a polling station – where those voters still seemed muted about what their vote would achieve.
Original post: I wouldn’t describe this country as being gripped by election fever. There are relatively few campaign posters, voter apathy isn’t hard to find and the turn out’s expected to be low. And this is just weeks after an offensive in Gaza that’s given the ever-present issue of national security an unavoidable immediacy. Why?
This country is regularly praised by its supports as being a beacon of democracy in the Middle East. And yes, these elections are almost certain to pass off peacefully and with observers declaring them free and fair and that’s not to be dismissed.
So how do we explain this? Here are some explanations I’ve heard. I’d be interested to get your reaction, and to hear your own reasons for the relative disengagement from the political process that we’re seeing here.
REASONS WE’VE BEEN TOLD:
– the proportional representation system means elections are too common.
– The main candidates are too similar, and the others are primarily concerned with one issue.
– It’s the same people. Binyamin Netanyahu and Ehud Barack have been PM before, Tzipi Livni is the foreign minister and deeply involved in the current government.
– The building of a coalition means that what you vote for you don’t get. You may support Likud, but a Likud-led coalition cannot only deliver which the party would support. It needs to offer incentives to minority parties to stay in the coalition.
– None of the policies on the Palestinian issue offers anything radically new (though Avigdor Lieberman with his no loyalty / no citizenship may disagree) so whoever wins it’ll be more of the same.
– The conflict with the Palestinians has been going on so long, no-one knows how to sort it out, so why even both to choose someone to try.dvePhotostre