Labor Chairman Merav Michaeli's announcement this week that she is retiring from political life and holding primaries (within four months) for the leadership of the battered party signals the direction: general elections for the Knesset until the summer of 2024.
What may determine the final date of the elections will also be local elections at the end of January. Interior Minister Moshe Arbel rejected Finance Minister Smotrich's request to postpone the elections on the grounds that the voting rights of his candidates and voters, who are in reserve or regular military service, fighting in Gaza, would be violated. It was decided that the candidates would be released from reserve duty and that polling stations would be set up in the combat zones in the south and north. Everyone will be able to vote and make a difference, not just Smotrich's supporters.
Therefore, the elections for the 259 local authorities, in which many Likud candidates are running, will be a touchstone of the Likud's strength after the October 7 debacle. They will also indicate public sentiment. Prime Minister Netanyahu is aware that the disappointment and frustration over the failure of the government headed by him, and his flight from accepting responsibility for what happened, may affect and project the results.
Strong in the municipal Likud, and in general. Chairman of the Local Government, Haim Bibas, Photo: Yossi Zeliger
It will be worth paying attention to voter turnout. In normal times, voter turnout is not high. Here, too, the public's attitude toward the heavy price in human life due to the failure will be examined. Sentiment can work both ways — either voters flock in droves, as part of a protest against what happened—or stay home, as an act of desperation over the situation. In any case, all parties will "commit suicide" over this election.
Netanyahu will decide
Some claim that there is no connection between the local elections and the national elections, because if a good mayor is a good mayor, they will vote for him even if he is from an opposing party. But over the years you could see a common thread. As a fact, at the end of every municipal election campaign, every party – and certainly the Likud, which is well established in local government – advertises and boasts about the number of its representatives and its victories in local government.
Netanyahu on home visits - gets voters out of bed to the polls
In municipal elections, the Likud has about 100 candidates for representatives in city councils, and in addition, about 40 candidates for mayor or mayor – such as Haim Bibas in Modiin and Miriam Feirberg in Netanya. Yesh Atid also made no secret of its intention to run for a long list of municipalities, as an indication of its consolidation in the public – including Tel Aviv, Haifa, Rehovot, Arad, Herzliya, Hod Hasharon, Ganei Tikva, Gezer, Kiryat Ono and other localities – alongside some 60 candidates for city councils.
Elections are approaching - the base is moving away
Presumably, the state camp will also help their candidates to take advantage of their rise in the general polls. As for the ultra-Orthodox or Arab authorities, the war will not affect the outcome.
Vacated mandates. MK Michaeli, Photo: None
At the same time, following Michaeli's announcement, tools will begin to shift on the political map. Recent polls indicate a large number of seats – 30-plus – belonging to the right-wing nationalist stream, which is looking for a home other than the current Likud, which is crashing in those polls. Also on the left and center side begin to move. Yair Golan has announced the establishment of a party, Meretz and Labor are looking for a co-chairman.
In any case, the one who decides on the next election date will be Netanyahu, and as usual, it will be at a time that suits him and his family, if he does decide to run.
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