Bad news for Netanyahu: Ze’ev Elkin, a member of the current Netanyahu government with special responsibilities for Jerusalem lost his bid to be the next mayor of the capital. His election posters showed him always with the prime minister. Perhaps this did Elkin harm more than good. On the other hand, Elkin seems quite capable to harm himself without anybody’s help.
Good news for Netanyahu: Virtually all the mayors and heads of municipalities who are currently under investigation for corruption and related offences – there’s a good number of them – were re-elected or will compete in the second round in a couple of weeks’ time in places where no candidate got the necessary plurality. If voters ignored the possible indictments of municipal leaders, how much more are they likely to ignore the various investigations and looming court cases of Binyamin and Sarah Netanyahu!
Better news for women: A record number of women were elected to head cities and municipalities. Particularly noteworthy is that 48-year old Einat Kalish-Rotem, defeated the long-serving major of Haifa. Similar success stories were reported in nine other regions. Apparently, in some places even ultra-Orthodox men voted for women candidates. However, the total share of women local politicians is only 13.5%. It has grown by 4.5% in fifteen years, but we’re still far away from gender equality in politics (as indeed in many other areas of public life).
Hopes for the Labor Party: A number of those elected, including the new mayor of Haifa, are members of Israel’s Labor Party. This has prompted the Labor leader Avi Gabbay to advertise a promise- that he and his party will do well in the national elections. By all accounts, it’s more pious hope than sober prediction.
Jerusalem: There were four candidates for mayor. None got the needed plurality. Therefore, there’s going to be a rerun later this month between the seemingly progressive, young and energetic Ofer Berkovitch and a man of the establishment, Moshe Lion. Though Berkovitch has now appealed to those who voted for Elkin in the last round to vote for him next time, the prediction is that Lion will get the needed majority. In the campaign literature Lion has described himself as a bulldozer. At this stage it’s not clear who will be most bulldozed, but as he’s likely to make promises to the ultra-Orthodox to secure their votes, ordinary folk should expect more punishing restrictions.
Things to come: Municipal elections may not be solid indications of what will happen in the country as a whole once general elections are called (which could be soon but must be held before the end of next year), there’s much to suggest that the mixture will be more or less the same as is now. One or two new parties may emerge and citizens may vote for them, yet a right-wing coalition is expected – with Binyamin Netanyahu continuing in office.
Things already here: The right-wing populist trend that’s sweeping the world is also present in Israel. Now Brazil has elected a president of that ilk; Netanyahu is said to be planning to attend his inauguration as the new president promises to move his embassy to Jerusalem a la Trump.
I’ve just come back from a meeting addressed by Canada’s foreign minister. In her speech she praised Israel and its democracy. From her mouth to God’s ears.
Jerusalem 1.11.18 Dow Marmur