Shortly before the elections, Israeli television interviewed a few men and women in the street as to their views of the candidates. Said one of them, “I don’t know why the difference between them matters—after all they are both Jews.” This was,however, decidedly a minority view. In fact, the elections were fought with a ferocity seldom seen in Israeli politics. What is more, the results revealed a sharp polarization of political allegiances that may have serious consequences for the future of Israel.
This polarization was clearly shown by two related phenomena: the decline in the votes of minor parties, and the overlap of ethnic belongingness and political affiliation.
In previous elections a large part of the electorate, especially on the left, seems to have felt that since it was virtually certain Labor would win, they might as well indulge in the luxury of voting for a candidate of their choice somewhat to the left of Labor. A similar phenomenon could be observed on the right as well....
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