Israel has less than a week to go until elections that will determine the next government and yet, according to polls, Israelis are more apathetic than ever.
With Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dogged by allegations of corruption and a growing mistrust among secular Israelis who are ruffled by his alliance with religious parties, no clear leader has risen up to pose a real challenge to the Likud party leader. Even his main rivals, Benny Gantz of the Blue and White party and Ehud Barak of the Independence party are garnering little excitement among voters.
“Never before – well, at least since the last fiasco in April – has an Israeli election elicited such indifference and apathy from potential voters,” a Jerusalem Post editorial said this week. “With polls predicting a repeat performance of that previous exercise in democracy – either ending in another stalemate in which neither the Likud nor Blue and White is able to form a coalition, or possibly a very narrow right-wing majority – many voters are deciding that their opinions just do not really matter and are going to stay away from the polls.”
The JPost said that 39 percent of Israelis “were less interested in the upcoming election than they were in the April one, 36 percent were following it to the same extent, and only 17 percent were more interested in the upcoming vote,” according to data from the Israel Democracy Institute (IDI).
It could be because of this rampant apathy that Netanyahu has made some dramatic announcements this week including his promise of a complete annexation of the Jordan Valley.
No drastic change in leadership or in Israeli policy is expected, no matter who gets the most votes.
In the April 9 elections, Netanyahu and Gantz both gained the same amount of seats, but Netanyahu was given the nod to form a coalition. Netanyahu couldn’t cobble together a majority of mandates to run the 120-seat Knesset. The government voted to dissolve itself this summer and go to new elections in the fall.
But with enthusiasm at an all-time low, prospects are also low that the winner will form a stable government this time around.