So once again we are heading back to the polls. For many this will be their 3rd or 4th election in 12 months. Many of us feel “election-ed out”, confused about who to vote for, or are annoyed about how this election came about. We should not let these feeling stop us from voting on Tuesday.
This coming Tuesday we have a rare and special opportunity to impact the future of our country. The Government is more than just the Prime Minister, what we dislike about the country can be changed and fixed by the next government, conversely what we like can also be broken.
As Olim we should grasp the opportunity to vote, we have values and expectations which are different to that of Israelis. The only way our values and expectations will be met by if we go and vote for whichever party, we feel best represents our views and needs. Many Olim made Aliyah for Zionist reasons, and they should take this opportunity to not be an armchair Zionist and impact the country we now call home. It’s also a fun experience and a chance to get plenty of social media likes!
Choosing who to vote for can be difficult, especially for Olim who do not understand the Israel political system, as well as the recent changes in the parties standing, most of whom have changed significantly in the last few months. Whilst there is not much time left before the election, polling stations do not close until 10pm on Tuesday night which is still enough time to conduct the relevant research to make an informed decision on who to vote for. Additionally, many resources are easily available in English online to help with your research. If after researching, you are still undecided then turn up to your polling station and decide how to vote then – a high proportion if Israelis do that and it’s better than not voting at all. I think it’s also fair to assume that most voters do not back their chosen party 100% but it’s still fine to vote for which ever party you most agree with.
I also often hear “does my vote make a difference?” Yes – every vote counts.
In the last election the results were changed when recounts showed that United Torah Judaism received just a handful of extra votes giving them an extra Kenesset seat. Hayamin Hachadash missed out on the Kenesset by roughly 1400 votes, 0.03% – that is just 3 of every 10,000 people that voted. If Hayamin Hachadash would have entered the Kenesset, even with 4 seats, we would most probably not be heading to new elections and would have had a stable government entering the 4th month of its term.
Additionally, if you chose not to vote you only help those you disagree with. As an example – Charedim usually have a high turnout and this time many expect it to rise further might even rise. If voter turnout amongst non-Charedim decreases, then the Chareidim will receive more seats and more power in forming the next government and Kenesset. (This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it depends on your own political and religious views. However, the same idea can be applied towards any party or group that you disagree with).
Lastly, Israel has made it very easy for citizens to vote. We have many accessible polling stations, ability to vote in hospitals, some organizations personally offer to assist taking voters to polling stations and most importantly – we have a day off work!
And at the end of the day, if you do not vote then you lose your right to complain about the state of the government, since you have the power to make a difference and are choosing not to use it.