Mayors Who Ran for Knesset Didn’t Win Over Residents

In Israel's 2013 election, the power of mayors to affect the national vote seems to have declined considerably.

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In every election party heads look to mayors to drum up the support of voters in their constituencies. This time, however, the power of mayors to affect the national vote seems to have declined considerably.

Dimona Mayor Meir Cohen joined Yesh Atid after being courted by party founder Yair Lapid for several months. Cohen has enjoyed great popularity in the Negev city for several years, and according to political sources he would have been reelected next year had he not decided to run for the Knesset instead. But a decisive majority of Dimona voters did not cast their ballots for his new party. Around one-third of Dimona’s 14,190 votes in Tuesday’s election went to the joint Likud-Yisrael Beiteinu list. Both Shas and Habayit Hayehudi also put in a better showing than Yesh Atid, which came in fourth in the city. One Likud party worker, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that in light of Dimona’s rightward and religious tilt Yesh Atid’s 2,000 votes there could be considered a victory.

Michael Biton won the November 2010 Yeruham mayoral election representing Kadima, but in last week’s general election he was a candidate to represent Labor in the Knesset. He, like Cohen in nearby Dimona, failed to swing his constituents’ votes to his new party. Only 224 Dimona voters, of a total of 3,824, chose Labor on Tuesday.

Similar stories played out in a number of communities throughout Israel, in which popular mayors and council heads failed to translate their personal popularity into votes for their new party of choice

Yair Lapid, center, is flanked by Dimona Mayor Meir Cohen (right) and Herzliya Mayor Yael German.Credit: Moti Milrod

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