Accountability. This is the main characteristic of democracy that separates it from other forms of governance. It gives the electing citizens the power and creates a level playing field for all political players – what were your campaign promises? what have you accomplished? what have you not? what causes have you supported and tried to advance? which ones have you not? – and based on that each voter can make up their mind on how they want to exercise their democratic right.
Because in Israel no one is making any comprehensible campaign promises nor do they present any specific courses of action to address burning issues on the agenda.
The main message of the liberal parties is “anyone but bibi”, the likud’s is “it’s bibi or them”, Kahlon’s is “not Lapid”, Liberman’s is “not Arabs”, and the haredi parties is “not seculars”.
Which brings up the question “what is?”
Can someone present a comprehensive plan to address any of the following issues that the public has time and time again marked as the ones they care about:
Cost of living – did anyone suggest any specific reform to lower the cost of living – first of all – what is the cost of living? no party shared its answer to the question. No one ever defined it. It just exists. Is it the cost of housing? what is the plan there? build more apartments? how? where? how long will it take? for what price? for who? is the cost of medical services – same questions. Is the low purchasing power compared to other OECD members of the same population size or similar GDP – is it a tax reform, if so – which one? how much is it going to cost? how long it will take? what will be the effect for the average household? is it a market reform? is it a change in government subsidies policy? is it a tax break? if so, same questions here. But no party presents any clear solutions for the issue. Both Lapid and Bennet have been in charge of financial ministries for the last 2 years. How much progress did they make? what have they tried to do? what have they failed in doing? and given that, how dare they ask for the public’s mandate once again? what are they going to do differently? and what makes them think that this time it’s going to work?
Education – every party mentions their plan invest more in education. Why? how? who said that insufficient funds is the issue? as was widely reported by channel 10 news, the issue is over funding of certain sectors of society over others, so maybe the solution is to reform the ministry of education and then we could actually get better results from a different allocation of funds compared to the current state. But who mentions it? who talks about? who researches it? more importantly – who cares?
Public Transportation – the treasury has released research suggesting that Israel needs to invest over 11 billion NIS a year over the next 20 years for Israel’s roads and public transportation infrastructure to be on par with those of an average European country. And while Israel Katz is crediting himself with vast investments in roads, who checked that those investments have a high return on investment – not financially speaking, but GDP wise – is more beneficial to build a 4 lane road from Sefad to Tiberias or invest in buying more buses for the Tel Aviv metropolitan area? who checked? who made the decision? why aren’t they held accountable? why no party is suggesting an alternative comprehensive plan to address the issue?
Peace Process – Liberman has again brought out his tiresome transfer plan, and to his credit at least he is consistent, but he was the foreign minister for almost 5 years why didn’t he make any advancements on the issue till now? he was very busy with small time Asian, African and European countries and we are very grateful that Nigeria voted on our behalf on the security council, is that all he has to show for after 5 years in the foreign office? we want to be part of the OECD, but our top diplomat is busy meeting with third world Asian and African leaders. I guess that what the saying “tell me who your friends are and I’ll tell you who you are” is for. But at least he has a plan. What about Livni, bibi, Kahlon, Lapid? what’s their plan – except for negotiate? the solution is obvious to everyone. Ironically it’s not far from Liberman’s proposal, so why the anonymity, why not come out and say it? or if you have different interests state that? except for Bennet and Meretz (and Liberman) no one is being straight-forward on the issue.
State budget – it’s a tiresome issue, I know. But each year we witness a 3-4 months long negotiation process where all members know their parts by heart – the treasury is trying to a have a balanced budget, ministry of defense wants more budget, there isn’t enough for medical coverage, there are poor, sick and unemployed people that go underfunded, and then on January St everything is “solved” because the knesset has finally voted in favor for a budget that is 95% the same as last year’s with 10-20 billions NIS moved around and that’s it. The budget is the top tool for the government and parliament to enact policy decisions, and the entire political process is limited to less than 5% of the budget. On top of that, there are an uncounted number of transfers between ministries that go unaccounted for throughout the year in the finance committee. What is a party’s budget plan? how do they plan to execute their campaign promises, at what cost, what are their priorities?
I could go on, but the message is clear. We deserve to judge and assess our politicians’ performance based on their campaign promises and their actions. And for that we need to demand that their campaign promises and plans if voted for (not even elected for government, but just for them to be elected for parliament) are elaborated as possible. In order to get what we deserve each reporter covering the elections should present these questions to every politician and candidate they talk to, and each citizen attending a political rally should demand a straight answer from the person they came to listen to. It’s time they listen to us. It’s time our voice is heard. Otherwise, we have only ourselves to blame. Each people get the government they deserve. We need to prove that we deserve better than the one we just had.