[Dr. Aaron Lerner - IMRA:
The poll, that was carried out before the Gaza campaign, found that the
distribution of 120 seats in the Knesset for age 18-25 voters would be Likud
39 Kadima 18 Labor 4 while age 26-35 voters would be Likud 30 Kadima 25
Youth vote won't be a big factor here come February
By Ayala Tsoref Haaretz 30 December 2008
Israeli prime ministerial candidates like to compare themselves and their
policies to United States president-elect Barack Obama. But whereas Obama
managed to shake American youth out of their indifference and get them to
stand in line for hours to fulfill their democratic right to vote, Israeli
contenders have yet to affect the same change.
Israelis have proven that the stereotype of the politically apathetic youth
is more than just a superficial image. About 33 percent of voters aged 18 to
25 said they don't plan to vote in the general elections in February and 15
percent said they were undecided on the question of voting, according to a
survey carried out by the Panels institute on behalf of TheMarker. In all,
48 percent of young voters either won't vote or are still deliberating the
About 40 percent of voters aged 26 to 35, many of whom have young families
and are members of the middle class, said they won't vote in the elections
and another six percent haven't made up their minds.
Voter turnout last election stood at 67.8 percent.
"Young voters' indifference stems from the sense of disappointment and
disgust of politics," said Guy Toledano, the Meretz campaign manager. "On
the public relations side of things, political parties should try and raise
the sense of commitment among young voters. Other polls unrelated to
politics show many young people feel strongly about getting involved in a
wide area of activities. When it comes to voting they are just fed up with
politics and politicians."
Respondents in the survey gave two main reasons for why they were not
interested in the upcoming elections. About 58 percent said they distrusted
the candidates. Others said, "the issue doesn't interest me."
"Unfortunately, the data we are receiving from polls confirm the serious
fears shared by all parties that many young voters are undecided and the
others are simply not interested," said Ziv Poplovski, the joint director
general of the Leomek Hatoda'a public relations firm that specializes in the
youth market. Leomek Hatoda'a also participated in the survey.
The poll was carried out a few days before the start of Operation Cast Lead
by the Israel Defense Forces against Hamas in Gaza began. Poplovski believes
that had elections been held now, the fighting may have influenced turnout.
"If elections were held today turning in the public in general and among
youths in particular may be higher because of the sense of consensus in the
righteousness of the war," he said. "But wars tend to be consensual in the
beginning and later split the public into separate camps and so I believe
that by the time the elections come around the war won't have any influence
on the turnout."
Likud, which is leading in the polls, also has an edge among young voters.
Meretz, too, draws a disproportionately high number of young voters in
comparison to any other age groups. Labor, on the other hand, is crashing
among voters under age 25 and is predicted to garner only four Knesset seats
from them. Contrary to popular opinion, the issue of the environment has not
managed to rally many young voters; the Green Party is expected to gain
between two to three Knesset seats.
"Young and middle-aged voters may be the key to victory this election," said
Menahem Lazar, the head of political research at Panels. "In 2006, for
instance, the pensioner vote was all-important. Figuring out how to drum up
the support of young voters may win the election. But to do that politicians
will have to figure out how to overcome the sense of alienation and lack of
trust among young voters."
Respondents of the survey answered a questionnaire distributed via the
internet last Wednesday. About 501 Jewish Israelis participated in the
survey, which had a margin of error of 4.4 percent.