The Election Results–First Thoughts

Haim Watzman

The exit polls show Tzipi Livni and the Kadima party slightly ahead of the Netanyahu and the Likud, but the right-wing nationalist block with a small majority. The Green Movement-Meimad did not achieve the two percent threshold.

So was my vote wasted?

There are two possible answers. Had the Green Movement-Meimad’s votes gone to Livni directly, she’d be in a stronger position, with a clearer lead over the Likud. And had they gone to Labor or Meretz, the left-wing block just might barely have tied the right wing block, meaning that Netanyahu could not form a government of the right alone. (Probably not, but maybe just.) From this point of view, my vote was wasted and in fact gave Bibi a boost into power.

On the other hand, even if such a tie between right and left had been achieved, the only government that Livni could form would be one much like the one she might just be able to form with the current results. That means a government that will be dependent on the support of at least two of the right wing and/or ultra-religious parties. And that means a government that would be unable to pursue the peace process or make significant progress on the other pressing issues facing the country. In that case, the votes cast for the Green Movement-Meimad would not have made much difference anyway.

While I’m aware of the logic of the first answer, my gut feeling is that the second is more correct. Whether Livni or Netanyahu forms a government, it will be a weak and divided one. New elections, within a year or two, seem a likely bet.

During that time, the Zionist left will need to reorganize, rethink its principles, and revamp its leadership. The supporters of the Green Movement-Meimad will necessarily play an important role in that process.

To Meretz and Labor, the message should be clear–the same old messages and same old faces are not going to convince the Israeli public to support the peace process and social democracy. To the Green Movement-Meimad the message should also be clear–we can’t create a new left without the old one. Both old and new will have to talk and compromise and create a united force. That united force must be one that doesn’t just mouth old slogans but talks in new ways about the problems that face us and the ways we can solve them.

6 thoughts on “The Election Results–First Thoughts”

  1. what matters isn’t only kadima and who will lead the government, but also the balance of power in the knesset.

    it really is too bad you’re still somehow denying that your green party, the other green party, and a couple of other fringe parties cost the left another vital seat or two, another voice in the knesset (like zehava galon) against the right that is bound to be ever-the-more belligerent (soldiers’ vote hasn’t been counted yet). and all for really insignificant differences and petty failure to stand united.

    and it’s too bad the greens (and perhaps you among them) still believe the way to help the left is talking about beaches and water and pollution, which however important, are way back in the public’s priorities, and rightly so. the left didn’t at all present itself as an alternative to to the right and pseudo-right (kadima) — that’s the real problem.

    A real shame.

  2. OTOH, it’s worth noting that Hadash – the Arab-Jewish party did better in these elections than ever before. From its beginnings as a communist party – and therefore, the fringe of the fringe, it’s emerging as a possible way forward in representing true progressive ideas, including the shocking one that Many israelis (Arabs and Jews) have more in common than is usually acknowledged. For example, young arabic Israelis who are educated and live in mixed towns such as Jaffo, have more in common with similarly situated israelis of jewish origin than with say, some settler supporting party, or undemocratic platforms such as Lieberman’s, or even the so-called ‘centrists’ like kadima who are about, well, nothing in particular, other than not being the “other guy”. many residents of, say, jaffo, are deeply concerned about things like gentrification, historical preservation, neighbourhood values and local control over rersources – just as you are.

    In fact, one possibility is for some of the smaller parties such as Hadash, the greens and others is to do just what the right has done – come together in a block on a truly progressive – and relevant – platform. Such a platform should absolutely include full partnership with israelis of Arab origins, many of whom, after all, are yearning to come out of their villages and into the high tech society of israel.

    Haim, why don’t you – or Gershon – write something about this kind of scenario – the possibility of bringing sections of the Arab origin israelis in from the cold? not as subservient yay sayers – as the labor did in years gone by – but as full – coalition-forming worthy – partners in a future, forward-looking government?

  3. You should have voted for one of the Arab parties. This way, your vote wouldn’t have been lost, and you would have send a signal of solidarity towards arab Israelis. Strange, that this simple thought never seems to occur to Israeli left wingers. A sign of prejudices and discrimnation even in that group?

  4. what I liked about Melchior’s election propaganda was his reference to “veteran politicians” when he himself has been a MK for a decade, and that he was forced, literally, to yield on his rabbinical salary – and I am not sure he hasn’t made other arrangements on that matter – that he stole an idea for high school parliament and in the Education Committee, when informed by the head of the Pupils’ Council that it was a crazy idea as they had something in place he ignored her and tried to waste more money.

    I had great fun debating him in England some two years ago on the BBC.

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