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Arab groups cooperate to raise turnout in Israeli election

A coalition of groups refuses to accept surveys predicting an especially low turnout of Israeli Arab voters at election booths next week.
Arab Israeli

With only five days only left before election day in Israel, expectations of low voter turnout in the Arab sector worry many. The majority of public opinion surveys predict that voting rate within the Israeli Arab public will reach only between 40 and 50 percent only. 

However, this month a coalition of civil groups launched a joint project to encourage voting in order to improve the situation of the Arab community. 

The project is being led by a number of organizations active in the Negev, the Galilee, and the Triangle region in the north of the country. Among the groups are the Arab Center for Alternative Planning, the Intama group, the Ajyal youth movement, the Standing Together movement, and others. 

The bulk of activity takes place on the ground, in addition to billboards and video clips on social media platforms — especially Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok — featuring popular influencers. Though most young Arabs have an account on one or more of these platforms, young people are generally uninterested in the chance to vote.

The campaign is based on the concern of several Arab parties that they will not win enough votes to pass the electoral threshold. Their slogan, “Despite it all, we need to vote,” wasn’t selected at random. Many Israeli Arabs argue that there is no reason to vote, since the possibility of Arab Knesset members contributing to society is so limited.

This reflects the paradox facing Arab society today: On one hand, with the Knesset at a deadlock, Arab voters potentially have the power to determine who will be the next prime minister, and which parties will form the new government. On the other hand, that same population feels that it does not really have an impact on politics. As a result, there is less motivation to get out and vote.

Samir Sweid of the Arab Center for Alternative Planning, a leader of the campaign, told Al-Monitor, “We launched our first campaign with other organizations in the second elections of this cycle [September 2019]. We’ve become a lot more sophisticated since then. Today, our campaign has three parts. The first is a classic media campaign, including social media and the Arabic-language press. It disseminates messages to encourage voting. The second part involves work on the ground. Young people distribute flyers and call on people to go vote. The third part is a door-knocking campaign.’’

Swied added that their volunteers are expected to make 150,000 “house calls” by election day. “When we started, only 40% of Arabs were expected to vote, and the mood was discouraging. We now expect to surpass 50% and even get to 55% of all eligible Arab voters.’’

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