06.12.2018 analysis by Molad

The Left’s ideas are winning – so why are its politicians losing?

Public opinion polls show that most Israelis support progressive positions. So why are progressive parties failing? How did the liberal-democrat majority come to believe it is a minority? On the ideological success and political failure of the Israeli Left – and where we go from here

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The crisis of the Left is usually attributed to lack of public support for progressive ideas. We are repeatedly told that Israelis have “veered right” and shown successive election results as proof. Yet an actual examination of public opinion shows otherwise. In fact, on all major political issues, most Israelis support leftwing positions over those of the Right. So why are parties on the Left flailing?

Molad's latest analysis reveals how, due to the misguided belief that leftwing views deter voters, progressive politicians have blurred their positions and sometimes adopted vague centrist or even rightwing ideas. To avoid being branded as leftist, these politicians have
relinquished the single most important asset of Israel's Center-Left – support for the two-state solution as the key to resolving the conflict. Also, by not fighting back against rightwing assaults for fear of alienating voters, MKs on the Left have effectively abandoned
politics. This, along with other processes, has driven the Left into an electoral crisis and ideological floundering.

“Many on the Left, overcome with fatigue, have reverted to faith in magical solutions: a new leader, a new campaigner, new policy, a new slogan. But a retired general, an attractive presenter or a new American consultant will not solve the problem. Without a broad, functioning operative network on one hand and conviction on the other, political representation of the Left will remain feeble in Israel – despite the victory of progressive ideas among the public. Therefore, the first step must be to stop thinking in terms of the coming elections. This is not only because winning them does not seem realistic, but also because, given the current state of progressive leadership, even winning the elections will not bring about the urgent, needed policy changes. Without a broad, effective network of
organizations, donors, policy thinkers, campaigners and activists all devoted to the same ideological backbone and to the success of the Left – no worthy leader will emerge, and even if one does, he or she will not be able to flourish. Building up this network will take time, energy, money and patience. To govern Israel again, the Left must stop being intimidated by rightwing bullying, trying to escape itself, thinking in immediate terms only and then waking up in a panic when elections are announced. Instead, we must start rebuilding Israel’s liberal-democratic bloc slowly but surely, by formulating an Updated
worldview that is committed to liberal principles on one hand and political realism on the other, and establishing an institutional network that can cultivate and disseminate these ideas and fight doggedly for them.”

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