Absolute public mistrust
Photo: Reuters

Why I won’t be voting

We should no longer agree to be forgotten immediately after the elections

I have decided not to vote in the upcoming elections. This is the first time in my adult life that I decided to refrain from exercising what is considered the most cherished of democratic rights. However, this shall serve as my protest, and as the protest of all those who decide like me, again the dysfunctional political establishment in the State of Israel.


Time after time, whether it rains or shines, mostly during war but also in times of peace, we went to vote. We considered our choices, debated, and invested thought based on a serious attitude to the issue, and to the elections and their implications. We, the voters, were serious. On the other hand, them, the elected officials, mostly betrayed our trust.


Every poll shows the absolute public mistrust in the political system. The good people tend to stay out of politics in the face of the failures they see on all fronts.


Therefore, the question is as follows: What is my personal contribution to changing this political system, which requires me to vote? Are we supposed to agree, every few years, to serve as a ballot and nothing else? Are we supposed to agree to be forgotten for another four years immediately after the elections?


I argue that the answer to all these questions is an absolute no. We do not serve as the vote reservoir of these people, who turn to us on occasion and ask that we vote for them. What have you done for us during the past years? This is the right question asked by the public. The answer is unbearable and is known to all citizens in all sectors: Seculars, religious, settlers, Arabs, and new immigrants.


Good people are saying that if I fail to vote, I will be boosting the most heavily enlisted sectors, such as the ultra-Orthodox or the Arab community. My response is that we are unwilling to serve as blocking votes. We are unwilling to cast a negative vote, only to ensure that others fail. This is not why I was given the right to vote. This is not the cure. By voting, I’m supposed to express my faith and hope for change or support a specific agenda.


Democratic, non-violent protest 

However, I won’t agree to time and again see politicians boast a specific agenda during the election campaign, only to act in contradiction of their own platform immediately upon taking office. They usually excuse this by claiming that “the view from the top is different.” However, what we saw from our position as voters is that our ballots were cast in vain. What all of us discovered is that the promises were broken immediately after the elections. After they counted our ballots, they didn’t count us at all.


The decision not to vote is a difficult one. At the same time, this is democratic, non-violent protest that serves as a stop sign for politicians. “Stop, because we will not continue to play your game. Stop, because we are getting off the playing field.”


A low voter turnout rate deprives politicians of the legitimacy to rule. Moreover, it requires them to adopt fundamental changes in the political system, while turning it into a functioning democratic system, rather than a formal democracy devoid of any practical substance.


To continue with the existing format means getting more of the same – that is, getting nothing. As voters, we have an interest in making our votes important and significant. It is precisely the decision not to use our vote that sharpens this message more than anything else.


Attorney Ervin Eran Shahar is the chairman of the Civil Coalition


פרסום ראשון: 02.09.09, 19:12
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