Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's decision to move up the elections has set off confusion over the nature of the issues that will dominate the campaign. Unlike previous election campaigns, which focused mainly on the Palestinian issue, the upcoming 2013 elections will focus primarily on the Iranian threat and the social protest, political experts say.
Tamir Shefer, professor of political communication at Hebrew University in Jerusalem said Wednesday that, "It is important for the public to assume that Iran will be the most important issue."
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"The public's agenda and the media's agenda coincide. The media has stopped reporting about the social protest or the haredi draft issue, therefore, I assume the Iranian issue will take the lead in the coming election season."
Dr. Asher Cohen, of the department of Policical Science in Bar Ilan University, claimed that after Netanyahu himself postponed the Iranian issue to next spring, he cannot see why it would come up during this election campaign: "I can’t see anyone telling Netanyahu not to strike Iran, so the social issue will be in the center of the upcoming elections," he said.
There are some who claim that it all depends on the voters' character or the candidate's strategists. "Every political strategist attempts to set the most convenient agenda for his client. It is likely that Netanyahu will be interested in focusing on the Iranian issue, and that Labor Chairwoman Shelly Yachimovich will promote a social agenda," said Dr. Yariv Ben-Eliezer, a communications expert from the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) in Herzliya.
Ben-Eliezer further said that "in the end, the public will chose the candidate they most connects with emotionally, although the Israeli public does tend to chose candidates according to their defense agenda rather than the social policies."
However, there is one issue all three experts do agree on: The candidate's personality plays a big part in the voters' choice. "You can see this phenomenon mainly in the media's coverage of the elections. The public elects a party but the headline will always be about the candidate," said Shefer.
Dr. Cohen calls it "personality party." "We all know that the party is based on the candidate. If the personality goes, so does the party."
Cohen further said that what is certain is that the upcoming elections are going to be characterized by extreme uncertainty.
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