Elections are in full swing here and regardless of your political inclination you canâ€™t ignore the fact that the process itself works. Voting rates as of 7:00 PM are still low, actually very low, only around 47%. The various experts predict a â€œlowâ€ 60% rate by tonight. Really itâ€™s all relative though and at the end of the day Israel is a political country. The morning shows today interviewed kids â€œplay votingâ€ and when I think about the fact that in most western countries kids still need to be taught who the country leaders are, I feel proud.
Great walking around Rabin Square in Tel Aviv, the center of the happening today and into tonight. A nice day for a political celebration and for those that still feel like democracy does not work, youâ€™re invited to take a look and learn. Every political party (no matter how ridiculous) is there trying last minute recruitment efforts, a huge line up for kids who also have special play voting booths, families, music and activists â€œflyingâ€ their political colors. The whole area is heavily guarded of course, there are currently over 60 security warnings, 14 of them targeted to election events, and both police and army are at the highest state of alert. Israeli democracy in its purest form !!
Channel 10 News did a very smart thing and took over the entire event placing a clear studio in the center of the square with entertainment stages, Mini Israel display for kids and snack bars all around the square. Felt a little like an amusement park. Keep an eye on this news network, theyâ€™re making the right moves, have a real fresh way of presenting the news and are innovative.
So whatâ€™s the scoop and what are people talking about. Well the old news on the street is that Kadima will take it. They are sort of the default option and represent the â€œCENTERâ€.
Ehud Olmert is okay, he had a little bit of a rough time getting into the shoes of Sharon and there was talk of his political track record and capabilities, there was also a scent of some dubious business dealings. He managed to get passed that for the most part. Olmertâ€™s family stayed out of these elections and he ran on his own in the campaign.
The one rising star and a woman I fully expect to be Israelâ€™s next Prime Minister is Tzipi Livni. The woman is giving off some great vibes, is getting noticed and as far as the Kadima lineup is concerned, is definitely a top tier asset. As Foreign Minister she is taking her first steps and besides, taking that position from Shimon Peres was really sweet. He was PISSED.
The obvious weak links in Kadima are Shimon Peres who now seems to be suffering from credibility issues and who is a long standing symbol of what being a loser is all about. The man has even lost the title of biggest political loser to Menachem Begin, if you can imagine that. Peres was a misunderstood academic who was respected for years but who has over time proved to be in love with being in the limelight at all costs.
The other weak link is the number 9 candidate, Tzachi Hanegbi, a corrupt slime that manages to keep slithering away from one scandal to the next. This man while in the Likud single handedly appointed over 80 Likud Center Party members into various positions in government. He is now being charged with election corruption, breach of trust and deception. This is a man who is making some voters a little uncomfortable with Kadima.
EMET or Labour party. Well there are some great people there. I even like Shelly Yechimovitz and really like Amir Peretz. Unfortunately, the discussions always come back to two main issues. Fear of business and economical growth slowdown that will be brought on by a strong socialist agenda. We all know how well that worked out for the communistsâ€¦
The other issue, and I feel bad saying this, is Peretz and his English. I think he is great but in todayâ€™s world if you canâ€™t speak English you have nothing to do in politics and especially if you are going to lead a country. PERIOD. I come from a long line of Labour supporters and still I canâ€™t handle the English or lack there of. I keep imagining Peretz speaking in the United Nations or visiting the US and giving another one of those speechs and I start sweating.
Finally, Likud. Likud has really one very big weakness thatâ€™s preventing people from voting for it and people I talk to seem to agree on this. Benjamin Netanyahu.
I have some good friends who although I believe they are politically confused (and I forgive them), are true Likud supporters and even activists. A good friend who has voted Likud for years met me right after voting and admitted he couldnâ€™t do it. â€œJust canâ€™t vote for Bibi againâ€. Bibi is not believable, not credible and some say not human. He is a political opportunist and someone who is desperate to get into power at all cost. The biggest running joke is his panic and sweating attacks. The Hamas fear campaign in this election was just another nail in his political coffin in the eyes of many voters.
Every major network is broadcasting from Tel Avivâ€™s Rabin Square and this will go on into the night. Keep an eye and wish us luckâ€¦