Over six million Israelis will head to the polls Tuesday, as the elections for the 21st Knesset have finally arrived. Politicians and candidates from all parties are making the rounds throughout the country, urging the party faithful – and the less committed – to go out and vote.
But the biggest challenger to Binyamin Netanyahu, Benny Gantz (and all the other party heads who see themselves as prime, defense, finance, or assorted other ministers) is not the rivals they face from other parties – it is Election Day itself, which many Israelis are utilizing as a vacation day for family trips and outings.
Tuesday’s weather is warm and sunny, and thanks to this winter’s heavy rains, the country’s parks and nature reserves are sprouting with greenery – an attractive idea for many nature-loving Israelis who have been “locked up” inside throughout the long, wet winter.
Those who will not be seeking out nature have plenty of leisure choices in town. While Election Day is an official day off – those who are working are supposed to get twice their normal salary – nearly every store, shopping center, restaurant, and other leisure site and attraction is open. Many stores are holding special Election Day sales with deep discounts on a wide variety of products, and supermarkets are expected to be especially busy, as families stock up for Pesach, which begins in just ten days.
All public transportation, including in-town and inter-city buses, as well as trains, are free Tuesday, making it easy for even those without a vehicle to take a trip to their local mall.
At his polling place in Yerushalayim Tuesday morning, President Reuven Rivlin called on all Israelis to go out and vote, despite the temptations. “Once every four years or so, Israeli celebrates its democracy. Each election is different, and that goes for this one as well. But like in all elections, I call on Israelis to exercise their right to vote, for themselves, our society and future generations. No vote will go to waste.”