A weak and despondent Labor Party held its primary election on Monday. But this weakness and despondence is not by divine decree, and Labor is not a doomed party. It has a strong spine, and its senior officials deserve high praise regardless of the spot they managed to secure on the party's Knesset list.
Labor's big advantage, which it is yet to implement, is the party's ability to present the public with a detailed and appealing plan of action, should President Reuven Rivlin task it with forming the new government following the April 9 elections. And don't say beforehand it's impossible. We've previously seen — and will continue to see — startling electoral upheavals.
The Likud Party on Sunday published its socio-economic plan in the guise of government objectives for 2019. The detailed plan, which runs for hundreds of pages, is very disappointing. If the Likud forms the next government—and along with it implements this plan—none of the hardships Israelis are currently experience can be expected to be eased.
The manpower crisis plaguing the hospitals is set to deepen; traffic congestion will get worse; public transportation will continue to falter; high school and elementary classrooms will continue to be packed; the nationwide introduction of a long school day will likely be postponed again; plans integrating members of the ultra-Orthodox community into the labor market will fall by the wayside; infrastructure for broadband Internet will probably remain as much of a dream as affordable housing; and so on and so on and so on.
The highlight of the government plan for 2019 is a reduction in the price of cheese. But did the government not promise us it would reduce those prices years ago?
Meanwhile, centrist parties Israel Resilience and Yesh Atid's political agenda so far comes down to expressing deep contempt for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, with their leaders Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid promising not to embrace him (even if they do agree to sit in Netanyahu's government after all). These are mere words. And words, even if they are justified, are not a substitute for a concrete plan of action.
If the Labor Party under Avi Gabbay wants political relevance and still sees itself in its historical role as an alternative government, it must behavedifferently. It must quit the chorus of those whose raison d'etre is to see who can chant "Just not Bibi" the loudest, and instead present the public with a comprehensive plan that lists a solid set of objectives.
Not an ethereal plan that lacks any budgetary considerations, but an entire set of brave yet grounded measures dealing with multiple areas of life, with cost estimatges, funding sources, a start and end date and the legislative steps required to realize the plan. The Labor Party has a roster of experienced professionals and experts who could quickly run with such a project – something that by all accounts is a true advantage over parties lacking leadership that is experienced in government and fears any kind of divergence to the left or right from its fabled center spot.
A wise use of this significant advantage would provide Labor with a ladder from to which to flee the electoral pit it has tumbled into, and enable her to influence the agenda for the upcoming elections and the new government that follows.