Are you still not sure who to vote for? Really? if you haven’t at least an idea of who you might vote for by now then you are either lazy or you haven’t had access to the internet for the last three months; otherwise you should have a relatively good idea who to vote for. If you already have an informed opinion, good job, and don’t waste your time on the rest of this.
Still undecided? Good news! This is a democracy and the sad fact is that if you went to the ballot box and played Eenie Meenie Minie Mo with the candidates your vote would count just as much as someone who has done the research. Depressing right? A democracy is a place where everyone is entitled to an opinion even if, frankly, they don’t deserve one. It’s why we have people who can be adamant about particular parties or candidates but couldn’t name a single one of their policies accomplishments or anything significant about them (For other examples speak to anyone wearing a “Ready for Hillary 2016” button ). Generally speaking the Israeli public, in regards to elections, are kind of like the Republican party when it comes to the female reproductive system: lots of opinions on what should be done with very little understanding of how the whole thing actually works.
The Israeli Electoral System:
Elections are required to be held once every four years…which would be nice except no Israeli government never actually makes it that far.
The Israeli system is a parliamentary one with proportional voting. What does that mean? Two things: First; two aforementioned dumb people who didn’t pay any attention to election news until the day before can come together from separate corners of the country to elect someone to office that may or may not represent their interest. Second; it means that we don’t actually elect people, we elect parties. A party must also pass a certain threshold of voting percentage in order to actually receive seats; this is in order to prevent every single loony tune from getting to sit in on a legislative body made up already of too many people who have no idea what they are talking about. In short, If you can’t convince at least 3% of voters that you have good ideas then you are crazy by Middle East standards. After the votes are tallied the 120 seats of Knesset are divided up among all the parties that passed the electoral threshold.
Theoretically speaking a party could get a majority of seats in order to have control over the knesset but in practice that would require way too many Jews to agree with one another so instead you are stuck with a coalition government where you have to force Jews who don’t agree to get things done so much easier right? It is a similar process to trying to decide on what tune to sing to in Synagogue and the resulting noise is an accurate representation of the Knessets legislative success.
The Political Parties:
While there are many many many parties in Israeli politics there are the mainstream ones that most people will rely on to actually run things. The political parties of Israel can be summed up into four main political streams: The Left Wing, the Right Wing, The “Have you put on Tefillin today?” and the “Death to Israel” parties.
The Right wing parties: So what if you groceries cost a fortune? The Iranians/Hamas/Hezbollah are going to kill us all.
The Likud Party:
The home of Bibi, Suck-it-Obama, Netanyahu. The Likud is the main right wing party that has controlled the Knesset for the last two governments; To give you an idea about their attitude towards the elections they haven’t released any sort of campaign platform. Additionally their campaign slogan is “It’s either us or the left wing”. It would be like if Mitt Romney had made his campaign slogan “I know you don’t like me, but i’m counting on you being less comfortable with the other guy” accompanied with posters all over Israel with him simply smirking like he just upper decked Livni’s office bathroom.
Bayit Hayehudi: The Jewish Home party.
The Jewish home Party, with Naftali Bennett at its helm, has made a name for themselves as the only other party with a guy who speaks English nearly as well as Netanyahu. His campaign slogan has been “we are no longer apologizing” (which I am convinced they stole from Egged’s customer service motto) and as a negotiation strategy, has a bit to be desired. They are more right wing than Likud, sometimes being accused of being religious homophobes (are there even any other kind?) which is only partially true depending on who you ask. Benett has been campaigning on a platform of having successfully lowered the cost of living in Israel by 5% which gives you an idea of the situation we’re in. Benett has no aspirations for prime minister this time around and would be happy to sit in a right wing coalition and maintain a status quo of stating obvious facts on the BBC and CNN.
Kulanu: The everyone party.
The Kulanu party is a run by a former member of the Likud party Moshe Kahlon. They are expected to gain around 9 seats give or take and Kahlon has been campaigning to be given the position of Finance minister in any coalition. Kahlon’s campaign slogan is “Hey remember how your phone bill used to be stupid expensive and now it’s not? That was me”. The Kulanu party hasn’t made many enemies and is not really disliked by too many people, mostly because they haven’t been around long enough. Give it time.
The Left Wing parties: What’s the point of living in peace and security if everything is so god damn expensive?
The Zionist Camp:
The Zionist camp is a joint venture of Tzipi Livni’s Hatnua party and Herzog’s Labor party in an effort to beat Netanyahu’s Likud. The zionist camps has developed as the major Left wing faction of the Knesset and the only serious challenge standing between Netanyahu and another term. The main leader, Herzog could be compared to John Kerry in the 2004 election against George Bush if for no other reason that he has the personality of a cardboard box. In an apt response to the Likud party, they’ve made their campaign slogan: “It’s us, or him” banking on the fact that the average Israeli can only identify one member of the Likud party by name: Bibi Netanyahu.
The two agreed, that, in the event that they win the elections and form the coalition they will split the premiership. Herzog would take the first two years and Livni would take the second two years of the term (a suckers deal since no government of recent memory has made it very far into year three of its term.
Yesh Atid (There is a future)
The Yesh Atid party is the another left wing party and is run by former tv news anchor Yair Lapid. Their biggest achievement of their last election cycle, which was the parties first, was winning enough seats to become the second largest party in Knesset with 19, when they were predicted to receive 12. They are banking on similar luck this year (which is always a sound political strategy). He sat as finance minister in the last government and his campaign is run on a platform of “we promise not to fuck up the housing market with silly promises as badly as we did last time”
Meretz… Honestly who cares what it means?
Meretz is the party that loudly proclaims that it is the REAL left wing and then quietly begs to not be excluded from the next government. Meretz has been playing jump rope with the electoral threshold and their future is in doubt. It’s one of those parties that if you don’t know what they stand for then you really have no business voting for them. Let me put it this way: Just about the only other party that considers them “Too Zionist” is the United Arab list.
The “have you put on Tefillin today?” parties: The Rebbe is watching, and he knows you look into the women’s section during prayers.
I’m not going to list these parties by name nor am I going to talk about their political stances beyond describing some, but not all, as the Israeli Taliban but with less guns. Suffice to say if you don’t know who to vote for it’s because your rebbe didn’t tell you who to vote for because you don’t have one and therefore shouldn’t be voting for any of these parties.
The “Death to Israel” parties: لا إله إلا الله محمد رسول الله
Once again I’m not going to go into too much detail as to the political stances of these parties because Ironically, just like the Ultra-Orthodox parties, if you don’t know what they stand for then you shouldn’t be voting for them. This time around there is only one. There used to be several Arab parties each maintaining three or four seats in Knesset. Since the raising of the electoral threshold however they realized that they need to combine strength or not be present in the next parliament. In an inadvertent “fuck you” to people who would try and convince you that Israel is an apartheid state, the United Arab list is projected to gain around 12 or 13 seats and make them the third or fourth largest party in Knesset. There is even a slight chance that the they could head the opposition. Politics right?
I hoped this helped you make a better and informed decision as to who to vote for (or who not to vote for).