Yoseph Leib writes
Another traditional voting foil is to vote for the part that one thinks will do the most damage to the country, in the hopes of embarrasing the enemy by letting them do all the stupid things that they think will help. But why is voting for Labor more effective than for a smaller party bound to be part of the same coalition, like Meretz or something? I ask out of pure ignorance of how Israeli democracy works. Why is supporting the larger kinda-good party more effective than backing the smaller-even-better party?
My hesitation in throwing full support to any specific party is not particular to this year's election. In just about every poll get to vote in, I'm always lost with that exact question - mostly because in every election I've had the opportunity to vote in, the choice has been between the bad, the worse, and the catastrophic.
If I did believe Meretz was without question the better party, my indecision could be chalked up to the typical election concern that voting for the smaller-but-great party doesn't necessarily do anything but take votes away from the bigger-but-still-good party and give them to the extremist-that-must-not-be-elected-under-anycircumstances-party.
In the case of this particular election, I am still torn between voting for Labor or Meretz to sway the coalition. For a number of reasons. Most importantly, I am not sure that Meretz is the "smaller-even-better party" - as much as I really want that to be the case. Considering Labor's jump to the left with Peretz in charge, it is not even clear that the dilemma of whether to vote liberal or radical even applies here.
In a sense, that gives the typical election concern even more validity - do I vote for the bigger party in the hopes of influencing the vote more easily, or do I vote for the smaller, but equally desirable party, to give it a chance to have more of a voice. Should it get enough votes, Labor is almost sure to be invited into a coalition. It is not clear that even if Meretz gets more votes than predicted that it will be invited to join the same coalition.
All the more reason to vote for Meretz? Maybe, maybe not.
I mentioned in my first election post that the main concern I have when considering who to vote for is a party's handling of the security situation. Meretz's position on security, and more specifically occupation, is clear - the occupation must end. This we know because Meretz is a left-wing party, because Meretz stands for civil rights, and because Meretz voters are usually the more adament anti-occupation activists (aside from Green Leaf and absentions). But Meretz has not given a concrete plan to this regard. The majority of my understanding of Meretz-security-plans is inference.
Labor has until recently also been fairly silent about its security plans. Like Meretz, it has been focusing on its social platform. But recently Labor said 'no unilateral withdrawal' - contrary to Olmert - a necessary part of any compromise, which withdrawal is meant to be. Amir Peretz speaks Arabic, appeals to a large sector of the population, and has gone ahead and made connections with Arab leaders in Morocco and Egypt.
I am not campaigning for Labor here. What I do support about Labor's security approach are small potatoes compared to the things that still make me uneasy about Labor as Labor and all its done and been through, and also about Peretz as Labor leader. That said, I feel equally as uneasy about Meretz - particularly its leader, Yossi Beilin- though I am still considering voting Meretz. In both cases, this unease is not enough to push me away from the belief that the best result of this year's election would be a Kadima-Labor-Meretz coalition. When it comes to security, both are weak in clear vision, but when it comes to civil rights and society, both are right on target. I am considering Labor more strongly because I know this vote is essentialy a choice of who I want to see in a coalition with Kadima, and because I know that should Labor receive enough votes it is almost guaranteed a place. I want Meretz to join the coalition as well. But even more than that, I want Yisrael Beiteinu, and especially Likud, to be kept as far away from the coalition as possible.