Poll Predicts Further Downturn in Arab Voter Turnout

By Hamodia Staff

Ra’am party leader MK Mansour Abbas (right) speaks with Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and MK Walid Taha (standing). (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

YERUSHALAYIM – Arab Israeli voters are showing diminished enthusiasm for the electoral process, as the fifth election in three and half years gets under way, according to poll findings.

Just 40 percent of Arab Israelis say they plan to vote in November, a 4.6-point drop from last year’s elections and a whopping 25 points down from 2020, said pollster Yousef Makladeh, as quoted by The Times of Israel.

“The general sense is that we tried to unite as the Joint List and it didn’t pay off. We tried to enter the coalition as Ra’am, and it also didn’t pay off,” said Makladeh, who has conducted internal surveys for both parties.

Disappointment in Ra’am’s performance as the first Arab party in a coalition in decades seems to be influencing the mood.

Promises of massive social funding for Arab towns and a crackdown on rampant crime have yet to be fulfilled. The over NIS 30 billion ($8.6 billion) in funding for the sector hasn’t made it yet to the impoverished and crime-ridden towns.

“If the government had been more stable and [Ra’am chief] Mansour Abbas’s political initiative had more time to be realized, perhaps we would have been in a different situation. But that’s not how it turned out,” said Arik Rudnitsky, who researches Arab Israeli society and politics at the Israel Democracy Institute.

Ra’am was caught between working with the center-right parties in order to secure funding for its constituents while pressure mounted to take the side of Palestinian protesters and quit the coalition.

“At the end of the day, Abbas was very disciplined. This also sparked anger among Arab Israeli voters — how is Abbas more committed to the lifespan of this right-wing government than Idit Silman or Amichai Shikli?” said Rudnitsky, referring to two dissident members of Yamina who quit the coalition while Abbas stayed on the fence.

The Joint List, which stayed outside the coalition, was better positioned to voice the anger of the street, both against the Zionist parties and Ra’am. But in the end the harsh rhetoric could hurt both parties.

On Thursday, the Joint List’s MK Ahmad Tibi berated Mansour Abbas for kowtowing to Netanyahu during a Knesset row, in vulgar colloquial Arabic. “This is exactly the kind of behavior that is going to drive down voter turnout even more. [Arab voters] look at this and think that the politicians care about their seats in the Knesset, nothing more,” said Makladeh.

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