Every Israeli election throws up a host of unlikely political mutations — the result of attempts to cross the electoral threshold and gain a seat in the Knesset. Next week’s polls will be no exception.
Some, like the Party for Men’s Rights, have become permanent curiosities with their glum-faced TV broadcasts ranting against social workers. This election’s innovation was a joint list of Holocaust survivors and a breakaway splinter of Ale Yarok (“Green Leaf” — the party campaigning for the legalisation of cannabis). Occasionally, one of these parties captures the public imagination and gets a surprising level of support. Last time, it was the Pensioners’ Party that confounded all expectations and became a sudden trend among young urbanites, emerging with seven Knesset seats.
This time around, the money was on the Green Party as the election surprise. Some of the polls even had them crossing the electoral threshold. But then along came the operation in Gaza, and an election that was expected to be fought over “civilian” matters was refocused on security issues. The Greens have only an environmental agenda and no idea what to do with Hamas. Neither do the Pensioners’ Party, who are expected to be wiped out in these elections.
Another party to be harmed by the Gaza operation is the left-wing Meretz. Two months ago, Meretz joined up with a new left-wing movement, replete with attractive new candidates. The polls were promising but the moment Gaza started burning, and Meretz first supported and then opposed the operation, voters deserted in droves. Some turned right to Labour and Kadima — others left to Hadash.