If you don’t vote – you vote for the other guy

This Likud primary will be determined by organized interest groups and not ordinary members and citizens. Don’t like it? Next time, go vote.

So what will happen today at the Likud Primaries? The organized labor unions will probably muscle their way in again · It’s too late to change things this time, but there’s always another round · Voter apathy means the wrong people win

קרב אבוד? צילום: פלאש90
A lost cause or a thrown game? Photo: Flash90

“Those who do not remember history are doomed to repeat it”, said George Santayana, and it looks like the Likud is a classic case of lethal amnesia. Today, some 95 thousand Likud members will be electing the party’s candidates for the Knesset. The rest of the members are either too new to be allowed to vote in the Primaries or worse – didn’t bother renewing their membership, thus leaving their party in the hands of those who are willing to make an effort to influence it – whoever they might be.

Quite often, these silent members drift away from the party and even forget they’re still registered. Sometimes, this apathy is due to the desire to vote for the latest star (Lapid, Kahlon, Bennet), ignoring how politics actually works when the campaigns have ended. If they had sobered up in time, they could have changed the internal political map of the party, and that of the state, providing the party and the country at large with candidates with real and promising messages of change and reform.

Instead of this, we will once again see the usual power players and shakers voting in organized armies of thousands which march into the polls to advance their own pet cause. Take MK Haim Katz, Chairman of the Union of the Israeli Aviation Industry, is a general in command of a veritable division of IAA workers, who are regular members of the Likud. He’s been on “vacation without pay” for 21 years, passed retirement age. Yet still – his word in the IAA and elsewhere is law. Thus, for instance, he saw to the adding of billions of NIS to the already bloated pension system of the Defense Ministry. When you have so many servants, the Duke can get whatever he wants and even call himself king. Others see that this works and follow suit – especially union heads who can easily bring in thousands of voters.

More backup for the unions

A perfect example is Pinhas Idan, head of the Airports Union, who was elected to his position by the literally unbelievable number of 97%, has decided to move in on the Likud primaries. So once again a socialist will become an active Likud MK, a party which ostensibly stands for free enterprise. This is not democracy as it’s supposed to work, one in which most of the voters actively influence matters rather than fall asleep on the job. Those who have not renewed their membership or decided not to vote have themselves to blame – they are the ones who sent the message that workers’ battalions have nothing to fear from the silent majority and can do what they want to warp the party.

השבית את נתב"ג. בדרך לכנסת. צילום: יוסי זליגר, פלאש90
Shut down BG airport, on his way to the Knesset. Photo: Flash90

It’s not just a Likud problem either – this is a national problem. Unions have a stranglehold on the ports, the electric company, and many other companies and corporations which provide critical services to the Israeli public. They are all cesspools of nepotism, inefficiency, monopoly or semi-monopoly conduct and higher prices. All of us are to blame for not becoming members of the open parties – Likud, Labour, Meretz or the Jewish Home – and having our say against this phenomenon. If we’d only all come together, we could have thrown all these special interest bums out and ensured a brighter future for Israel’s citizens, not just a select few.

Apathy is a lethal political disease

It’s too late this time around. Haim Katz will be a Likud MK next Knesset. Alongside him will likely be Pinhas Idan. Together they will hogtie the state to the service of their worker constituency – at your expense, of course. But we’ve only lost a battle; we can still win the war. Those who sign up today can vote in the next party primaries. Don’t put it off – go now. Together we can throw all the special interest bums out – but we can’t do it without you.

English translation by Avi Woolf.

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