The Israeli elections are three days away and the campaign is reaching its inevitable crescendo. Something called “movement for social media” is adding its contribution to the cacophony with a celebrity clip whose message is “Vote! or others will choose for you.” (In Hebrew ‘vote’ and ‘choose’ are the same word.)
The campaign organizers explained back in October that it was prompted by falling voter turnout rates in Israel. Voter turnout has dropped from close to 80% throughout the second half of the 20th century to under 70% in the three elections of the first decade of the 21st.
Haim Yavin [a veteran Israeli newsman] did not hesitate to join the campaign. “The call for action is this: “Vote for whomever you want, as long as you vote,” said Yavin, who emphasized that “the increasing apathy motivated me to take part.” The singer Shiri Mimon was quick to join. “I didn’t think twice,” she said. “We must not sit idly by. If we remain cocksure we will find ourselves in another summer of protests.”
TV personality Guy Pines found it important to convey to the Israelis the meaning of voting. “Every year more people are losing hope that their vote has an impact,” he said. “There is a feeling that ‘everything will turn out somehow,’ either turn out well, or turn out badly, mostly badly, and it makes no sense to bother. This is a kind of thinking that undermines democracy.”
The three initiators of the campaign are confident they will succeed in raising voter turnout in the upcoming elections. “In upcoming days we will launch a site and invite the public to help us in this great task,” said Shir Nostsky. “Whoever doesn’t vote really demotes himself from a citizen to a resident.”
“Our objective is to raise the turnout to 86%, like it was in the first elections ,” concurs Roy Noymann. “To recapture the feeling that the public is sovereign. After the elections we will create a lobby in the Knesset [Israeli parliament] in order to pass a law that will make voting mandatory, like in Australia.” Their colleague Regev Kontrass emphasized as well the need for involvement by the citizens. “Nothing will be as destructive to the state and the society as giving up,” he said. “This is what really causes us to disintegrate.”