"A very serious campaign was conducted by the parties, the Elections Committee, the press, the president – almost every institution asked the public to vote. This certainly motivated people," said Professor Daniel Bar-Tal, a political psychologist at Tel Aviv University.
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The weather, he said, also played a part. "There is a festive, optimistic atmosphere. If it had been snowing or raining, like it did a week and a half ago, the picture would have been different," he claimed. "The weather blended in nicely with the calls to go out and vote and brought people to the polling stations.
"These are not the US elections, in which the winner was not known until the very last moment," Professor Bar-Tal told Ynet. "Therefore, we cannot attribute the high voter turnout to a sense of change among the Israeli voting public."
Line at Eilat polling station (Photo: Meir Ohayon)
In addition to the weather and the public campaign, Bar-Tal argued, the social networks also contributed to the high voter turnout. "Apart from the election campaign conducted before our eyes on television and the radio, a smaller campaign took place on the various social networks, such as Facebook," he said. "There are countless, very serious discussions. People express their opinions, are exposed to other opinions and urge each other to vote. This energized people."
According to Professor Bar-Tal, the social justice protest also motivated Israelis to vote. The protest "put a number of issues on the agenda and proved that it is possible to unite and express an opinion," he claimed. "Its failure showed that bringing about real change through a struggle must also include voting in the elections."
Political Science Professor Avraham Diskin of Hebrew University said it is difficult to determine the exact cause of the high voter turnout. However, he said, "At the moment I can attribute it to immense pressure on the public to go out and vote.
"Normally, when there is a slight increase in the voter turnout it is attributed to the upper classes," Diskin explained, "But when there is a continuous increase it is attributed to the lower classes. We are seeing a high voter turnout during all hours of the day – the highest since 2000."