Whom should we cast our vote for,ask Israelis

As the Israelis trudge once again to the polling stations on Tuesday to elect a new Government for the fifth time in a decade...

Written by New York Times | Jerusalem | Published: February 8, 2009 12:14 am

As the Israelis trudge once again to the polling stations on Tuesday to elect a new Government for the fifth time in a decade,many of them may still be asking themselves whom they are going to vote for,and why.

According to a campaign ad of the ruling Kadima Party in the days before the election,900,000 Israelis had not yet decided which party to support. The fear among those competing for office is that many of the so-called floating voters will opt to stay home. The problem,analysts say,is that nobody knows what this election is about.

The leaders of the major parties vying for the Prime Minister’s job have mostly avoided discussing critical policy issues such as how to deal with the West Bank,Gaza,Syria or Iran. Instead,their campaigns have focused on the trustworthiness of their rivals,or lack thereof.

“Everybody has been running negative campaigns against everyone else,” said Dan Caspi of the department of communications at Ben-Gurion University.

Since no single party ever wins an outright majority,the one that commands the most votes and the most support gets first option on putting together a governing coalition.

The latest opinion polls indicated that Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing opposition party,Likud,would win,followed by the centrist Kadima Party led by Tzipi Livni,though the gap seemed to be narrowing.

Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beitenu,an ultra-nationalist,anti-establishment party,has risen to third place in recent polls,overtaking the once dominant centre-Left Labor Party of Ehud Barak.

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