It’s called “gevald campaigning,” and the appeals by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu – considered by most in the political establishment to be an expert at it – to vote for him instead of other rightwing parties lest he not be the one to form a government is a success, according to pollsters. Not that Netanyahu is necessarily swaying Yemina or Otmza Yehudit voters to choose Likud; the success, according to pollsters Camilla Fuchs and Yitzchak Katz is that it piques the interest of voters, and thus motivates more of them to go to the polls.
In an interview on 103FM Radio, Fuchs and Katz, of the respectively competing Dialog polling group and the Ma’agar Mochot organization, said that even though Netanyahu is trying hard to convince people that his party may not win the next election, the polls show a definite strengthening in that direction. “As things get closer and final opinions are formed, it appears that the differences between the right and left blocs are solidifying, in favor of 61 seats for the right,” said Fuchs.
Katz agreed, saying that this was due to the number of rightwing voters who might otherwise have stayed home on Election Day, but are becoming convinced that their vote counts – thanks to Netanyahu’s exhortations that he is losing. “The more ‘gevald‘ we hear on the right, the more voters will come out.” While the initial effect is to bring out rightwing voters, the “gevald effect” helps the left as well, which on Election Day traditionally gets alarmed that the right is out in force, prompting them to go vote as well.
Other parties have tried the tactic, but with less success. On Sunday, Labor chairman Amir Peretz said that there was “a danger that Labor would not pass the electoral threshold.” Katz said that the latest polls show that Peretz was right; both his party and the Democratic Camp were edging around the threshold. “The Democratic Front is doing better, but there is room for concern in both parties.” As far as Yisrael Beytenu was concerned, weekend polls show the party stabilizing at around eight or nine seats, fewer than in recent polls. “It could be that is connected to the latest tactic of Blue and White, which declares that they want a ‘secular, national government’ without chareidim,” he added.