If you don't vote - you've voted

The apathy of one third of the Israeli voter body is a symptom of the public's fatigue with politicians. But this apathy does not exist in the orthodox wing, which will take advantage.

The apathy of the voters is astonishing. The opinion polls indicate that one-third of the voters will not go to the polls. How can one be indifferent when difficult decisions - the territories, the economy and society - are in the balance? How can you agree to let others determine your fate?

This only means that the politicians have succeeded in making themselves hateful to the public, to the point that many people do not believe their promises and their plans, and consider them corrupt and interested only in Knesset seats. All of them. And if we are talking about all of them, why vote for anyone in particular?

Even in apathy, there is no equality. The ultra-Orthodox are not indifferent. They will go to the polls in full force and in many cases with more than 100 percent of their strength by employing the identity cards of the deceased. The Shas voters are not disturbed by the corruption of their politicians. From their point of view, not only Arye Deri is "innocent," but so are Yair Levy, Shlomo Benizri, Yair Peretz, Raphael Pinhasi and Ofer Hugi. The knit skullcap people will also all go to the polls. They grasp that the next Knesset will decide on the fate of the territories, and every vote counts.

The problems exists only among the secular public. That's where the doubt lies, where cynicism is rife. Many of them won't go to vote, and afterward they will sit on Friday night and complain about the situation. They will forget that at the decisive moment, they preferred to go to the beach, and thus through their own failure they transferred power to Shas and to the National Union.

There is another reason for the apathy. Everyone knows that although it is important to observe the democratic commandment, a single vote does not influence the final outcome. One more vote will not determine whether a certain party gets another Knesset seat, and therefore one can sit at home in peace and enjoy the day of vacation without bothering to go to the polls and without burdening one's conscience. Is that really so? According to the present elections system, when there are surplus votes, they are divided according to the Bader-Ofer law. That happened in 1973, when MKs Yohanan Bader (Gahal) and Avraham Ofer (Mapai) adopted and legislated a system developed by a Belgian mathematician named Victor d'Hondt. The goal of this system is to benefit the large parties.

The system is somewhat complicated, and here is an example: Let's say that the number necessary for a Knesset seat is determined to be 25,000 votes; and let's say that Kadima gets a million and one votes, and Meretz gets 145,000. Kadima will receive 40 seats (for the one million votes) and will be left with a surplus of one vote. Meretz will receive five seats, and will be left with a surplus of 20,000 votes. Who will receive the additional seat for the surplus it accumulated? Will Meretz, with a surplus of 20,000 votes, or Kadima, with a surplus of one?

Logically is should be Meretz. But according to the Bader-Ofer law, the "price" to be paid by each party for each seat must be calculated on the assumption that it will receive another seat. The "price" for Kadima is 24,390 votes (1,000,001 divided by 41). The "price" for Meretz is 24,167 (145,000 divided by 6). Therefore, since Kadima's "price" is higher, it will be the one to receive the additional seat.

This is an undemocratic outcome because this maneuver works out so a vote for a large party is worth much more than a vote for a small party. A vote for Kadima, in this example, is worth more than the 20,000 votes given to Meretz, and that contradicts the democratic principle that every vote is equal.

And another conclusion: It is already impossible to say that the single vote is not important. It is very important, especially when it comes to the large parties. Does this mean that it is more worthwhile to vote for the large parties? Not necessarily. There are more important considerations for voting. Mainly the consideration of conscience, which says that one should vote for the party that will best represent the opinion of the voter in the Knesset. But what should those voters do - not an inconsiderable group - who believe in a free economy, in competition and in reducing the government's role in the economy but also in what Levi Eshkol said immediately after the Six-Day War, that the territories were being held as a deposit for a time of peace, and therefore we had to be ready to evacuate them?

There is no such party. There is no party that favors a free economy as well as peace now. There is no party that is actually a combination of Benjamin Netanyahu and Yossi Beilin. Netanyahu is suitable economically, but not politically. Beilin is suitable politically, but not economically. How does one solve the dilemma?

The economy, for all its importance, is not now a critical issue. On the other hand, a solution to the conflict is critical, and time is pressing. Moreover, if the political problem is solved, the country will benefit from a tremendous flow of investments and major growth: Nobody will be able to stop the festivities. Therefore, the vote has to be decided according to the political component. The economy can wait.