It was widely commented that one of the greatest challenges ahead of Israel’s third elections would be voter apathy. In the end, this proved inaccurate as over 71 percent turnout was recorded, the largest in over 20 years. Here in Jerusalem, the municipality offered voters free ice cream, but that was unlikely to have clinched it.
More likely, it was a successful targeted Likud campaign that specifically aimed at areas fitting the Likud voter profile with a low turnout in September’s election.
Likud strategists explained that this targeted campaign in Ashkelon, Ashdod, Netanya and Hadera focused on 260,000 voters. This could have made the difference.
The other significant rise in turnout was in the Arab sector. Substantial numbers came out in support of the Joint List, which not only remains the third largest party but also increased its representation in the Knesset. Arab voters were likely galvanised by the refusal of Zionist parties, including Blue and White, to sit with them in a coalition.
Netanyahu, who turned 70 since the last election, embraced this election with youthful exuberance. He hit the campaign trail at a pace that would put younger men to shame, full of energy and dynamism, the strategists clearly recognising that the PM was their greatest asset.
Likud’s successful re-energised campaigning stood in stark contrast to Blue and White. Their leader, Benny Gantz, haltingly sought to remain aloof and statesmanlike, yet appeared wooden and pedestrian by comparison
Now the battle to form a government now begins. Netanyahu’s trial is due to begin soon. He will need all his guile to successfully form a stable government while defending himself in court.