Thursday, November 13, 2008
Embarrassing blow to Likud
Jerusalem election results a blow to Likud, but will this affect general elections?
Part 2 of analysis by Attila Somfalvi
Another question we can ask is which party does newly elected Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat belong to? Does he belong to Kadima, the party he used to be part of in the past? Does he belong to the capital's secular residents, who suddenly woke up? Or perhaps he is affiliated with Labor, as party members attempted to hint Wednesday morning, making note of Barkat elections events attended by Ehud Barak and Binyamin Ben-Eliezer? One thing we can say with certainty is that Barkat is apparently not a member of Likud for now, a party that suffered an embarrassing blow in the capital. Benjamin Netanyahu and his party invested great efforts in Jerusalem, yet the results are discouraging: It is doubtful whether Likud would be able to get even one representative into city council. In terms of the image this conveys, we are talking about a harsh blow for a movement that has been leading in the polls lately.
Yet will this affect the general elections? That is highly doubtful. In recent years, the link between municipal elections and general elections has been weak, and therefore it would be a mistake to rule that Likud's defeat in Jerusalem is also a harbinger of a Likud defeat in the city in the upcoming general elections.
And what about Labor? Party officials are quick to take full responsibility for the achievements of Tel Aviv Mayor Huldai, as well as several others election winners. Party Secretary General Eitan Cabel encouraged the party's detachment from local elections lists in recent weeks, yet this morning he was sounding pleased over the elections results, as if he was the spiritual father of countless independent lists which Labor supported nationwide.
And despite all, it is worthwhile to pay attention to the smaller lists. Yisrael Beiteinu had fielded candidates in 47 local authorities nationwide, with most of their campaigns being premised on party leader Avigdor Lieberman's image. Hundreds of billboards with Lieberman's photo and the slogan "Lieberman Now" were posted across the country, as if he was the only candidate everywhere.
Yet in this particularly case, because of the direct link created by campaign managers between Lieberman and his party representatives at the various communities, and the party's strengthening in the recent elections, the results may attest to what we can expect in the general elections as well.