Political Roundup – Election Update: The Final Stretch
Monfort Advisory brief / October 2022
Talk to the average Israeli on the street and ask them about the upcoming election, and
you will likely get a response spanning from absolute apathy to utter bewilderment.
Emerging out of the summertime and Jewish High Holiday period and only two weeks
before the elections, most Israelis are either unaware or are choosing ignorance. It is
hardly a surprise; for one, this is, as said many times before, the fifth election in four years;
second, with the holidays and summer, campaigning has not yet begun in earnest. This
is likely to change in these final two weeks, yet – it is widely assumed – not sufficiently to
undo the apathy and encourage people to vote. Estimates indicate a very low voter
Political parties in Israel have done relatively little in recent months, knowing full well that
attention spans are limited and that their resources should be withheld for this final stretch.
Most parties are planning to launch their main campaigns in the coming days, and the
main strategy of most parties can be summed up as “getting out the vote”, or: getting as
many of their voters out of the house and into the voting booth.
This is especially critical for the anti-Netanyahu bloc, which may be less invigorated than
before. Netanyahu has been playing on the resentment and anger fuelled by his
disappearance and the perceived injustice that’s been done to him, and he hopes this will
be enough to get people out in support of him. By contrast, the anti-Netanyahu bloc is
exhibiting less interest and is more at risk of not showing up. Dethroning Netanyahu was
more compelling than preventing his return, especially when the “change government”,
as it named itself, was a far cry from the hope it inspired. The situation is even more
critical amongst Arab voters, where experts predict record low turnout, which could cripple
the Anti-Netanyahu bloc by endangering all three Arab parties.
As always, the central election battles are twofold; first, there’s the traditional battle
between left and right, represented by Yair Lapid and Netanyahu, who respectively make
up the Prime Minister candidates for each side. Currently, no bloc has the coveted 61
seats allowing them to form a governing coalition easily. Of course, that depends on the
makeup of each bloc, which brings us to the second battle: the inner-bloc war, where the
challenge for Lapid and Netanyahu is to remain the biggest party while not taking away
seats from their ideologically adjacent parties that would make them drop below the
threshold. Lapid wants to win enough seats to credibly challenge Likud and Netanyahu
as the obvious candidate for Prime Minister but needs other central-left parties to cross
the threshold to recommend him as the Prime Minister. The challenge is how you grow in
power without “cannibalizing” your fellow parties.
Polls are a tricky business, especially this close to an election and before the campaigns’
launch, but the deadlock remains. Netanyahu is falling short of the 61, despite remaining
the largest party. As noted, the motivating strategy for all parties will be to get their voters
out to vote, and success or failure in doing so will dictate the election results. Regardless,
what is most likely at this time is that this fifth election will not deliver a deciding verdict,
and the scrambling to form some sort of functioning government will remain in place, as
it did four times before.