Just one week ahead of the elections, Benny Gantz’s Blue and White Party does not have enough votes to create a bloc larger than the right, despite being successful in taking some votes from the center, and Prime Minister Netanyahu is still in a position to form the next government, Bar-Ilan University Prof. Jonathan Rynhold estimates.
An expert in Israeli politics and U.S.-Israel relations, Rynhold, director of the Argov Center for the Study of Israel and the Jewish People in the Department of Political Studies, says that the result of the election is still undetermined because there are several parties across the political spectrum that are hovering around the voting threshold, and whether or not they cross the threshold will greatly impact the balance between the two blocs and who has the best chance of forming and leading the next government.
More than ever, the elections are about the left versus the right bloc, emphasized Dr. Julia Elad-Strenger, of Bar-Ilan’s Department of Political Studies.
A political psychologist, she explained that under threats such as an ongoing conflict, citizens gravitate toward conservative ideologies because they provide a sense of clarity and security. Therefore, all parties have to speak in this language to try to gain support.
In Israeli discourse, the label “right-wing” is perceived as representing conservatism, as opposed to the label “left.” Left and right are not only labels, they also represent or create social identities, she added.
Candidates of the Blue and White members are actually quite conservative, she posited, but once they are labeled as left-wingers in disguise, right-wing voters will reject them without reading their platform or observing the fact that they are actually led by high-ranking IDF generals.
Citizens tend to expose themselves selectively to information and interpret information selectively to avoid information that contradicts their views. Therefore, she said, it will be very difficult for Blue and White to recruit right-wing voters.
Prof. Noa Aharony, chairman of Bar-Ilan’s Department of Information Science, said that the adoption of social media as a platform for political activity has become popular as it enables a free, open channel to potential voters.
This new type of political communication is personalized and focuses on politicians’ personal life. Instead of using these platforms to disseminate information, ideas, plans and strategies, it aims to create an alliance with the audience by presenting the politicians as “normal people” with family life and hobbies.
Furthermore, politicians use emotionally based discourse in their personal websites, as well as the pathos element of persuasion. This modus operandi echoes previous studies all around the world where politicians used the emotionally based discourse in order to cause the audience to identify with them through the creation of a bond between them and the audience, or through the creation of fear, she concluded.