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Benjamin Netanyahu (Likud)
Photo: Gil Yohanan
Ehud Barak (Labor)
Photo: Gil Yohanan
Tzipi Livni (Kadima)
Photo: Tal Shahar
Hading out leaflets
Photo: AFP
Political parties fight for votes as elections near
Ten days before elections, parties go into high gear, dispatch activists to traffic intersections to distribute promotional material. Right, left, Jewish, Arab – approaches are different, but as per low voter turnout predicted by polls, goal is the same – get voters out to polling stations
In another 10 days, Israeli voters will head to the polling stations to fulfill their democratic right, and the political parties are alive and kicking. Without any direct clashes among the three leading candidates for the premiership – Tzipi Livni (Kadima), Ehud Barak (Labor), and Benjamin Netanyahu (Likud) – parties are focusing all their energy on rousing voters from their apathy.

 

Kadima Chairman Minister Tzipi Livni is expected to increase her public appearances, targeting specifically younger voters and women voters. The party's main objective is to convince voters that the battle against Likud still has not been called and that voting for Netanyahu will only be a replay of his term in 1996.

 

The Labor party for its part has a number of functions and conferences slated for the coming days. Former Labor Chairman MK Amir Peretz embarked upon a cross-Israel trip during which he will tour many open-air markets and will attend a number of different activists' conferences. In addition, Labor will hold a conference with former MKs who have expressed their support for Labor and Barak.


Political bumper stickers distributed in fight for voters' hearts (Photo: AFP)

 

The Likud intends to up their negative campaign against Tzipi Livni in the coming days through new billboards, among other things. The Likud will sharpen its message the Livni has committed to dividing Jerusalem within the framework of a long-term peace solution.

 

Likud campaign chaiman Knesset Member Reuven Rivlin said that the party is relying heavily on volunteers as it has to work within a limited campaign budget because the party only has 12 seats in the current Knesset.

 

Meretz looks to younger voters

The New Movement-Meretz plans on focusing its energy mainly on younger voters, who, according to studies, make up a large part of its constituency. Meretz intends to launch new campaign calling young voters to go out and vote under the slogan "Tuesday is ours or theirs." Another option being considered by the party is to hold a large party on Election Day that celebrities supporting the party will attend.

 

Meretz is also slated to put up a series of clips on the party website targeting environment supports with the slogan that it is not worthwhile "to waste your vote" on small niche parties that will not get a seat in the Knesset.

 

The smaller parties, fighting to pass the threshold required to get a seat in the Knesset, are also putting in a last fight before the elections. The Gil Pensioners' Party, which polls predict will pass the threshold, is planning on upping their activity at nursing homes, conventions and tour around the country. The party will also launch a campaign in Yiddish in the coming days.

 

The green parties will try to raise awareness about environmental protection by distribution 100,000 green balloons to children who can convince their parents to vote green. The party also plans on distributing flowers at the entrance to shopping centers. The three green parties on the ballot are Meimad-Green Movement, Ale Yarok ("Green Leaf"), Yisrael Hazaka ("Strong Israel").

 

Haredi parties

The United Torah Judaism party is placing special emphasis on the days leading up to the elections. The party plans on distributing provocative and instigative fliers and posters throughout the country.

 

Shas is also preparing for the home stretch. This week, the "10 Campaign," in which every party activist will hand over to his coordinator a list of ten people he convinced to vote for Shas, will gain momentum.

 

This method was developed by Shas' spiritual leader Rav Ovadia Yossef. Women in the party are also expected to take an active role in convincing people to vote for Shas.

 

Lieberman vs. Arab parties

Arab parties Balad, Hadash, and United Arab List-Ta'al have understood that the most critical element in the upcoming elections is spurring constituents to go out and vote. Party leaders will hold dozens of meetings in private homes in the coming days in a bid to explain to voters why it is so important that they exercise their right.

 

This comes on the backdrop of a wave of incitement, increasingly strong right-wing parties, and Avigdor Lieberman's attempt to disqualify the Arab parties from the elections. Party leaders will emphasize to their voters that it is important they only vote for Arab parties. An Arab boycott of the elections would significantly decrease the success of these parties.

 

Right-wing party Yisrael Beiteinu is focusing their activity on signing people to the party's charter: "No Citizenship without Loyalty." Party activists will also take to the streets distributing fliers, posters, and recruiting voters to their ranks.

 

Amnon Meranda, Eli Senyor, Ronen Medzini, Attila Somfalvi, Yael Barnovsky, Sharon Roffe-Ofir, and Roi Mandel contributed to this report

 

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