December 5, 2022

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Living Costs Top Concern for Israeli Voters in Upcoming Election

3 min read

Israelis are now tired of the soaring prices in the country and they are also fed up of the seemingly never ending elections in the country.

The elections on November 1st will be the fifth ones to take place in the last four years and the top priority for voters in this round are the steep living costs, which have been exacerbated by inflation.

Living costs

According to voter surveys, living costs have taken priority of the other issues, such as the Palestinian conflict.

Yet, voting patterns are changing in the turbulent political system due to the attitudes that people have towards the former premier, Benjamin Netanyahu.

Moreover, sweeping economic reforms also don’t seem to be a possibility because of an election cycle that does not seem to end.

Since 2019, only a single state budget has been passed due to the repeated ballots in the country, which has prevented long-term planning that is required for passing reforms for reducing costs.

Therefore, voters have become concerned that matters will not improve a lot even with a fresh election, even though the rightist religious bloc of Benjamin Netanyahu has promised change, as has centrist Yair Lapid, the current premier.

Deadlock

According to economists, the economy in Israel is doing quite well because of robust growth rates that are far better than the West and low unemployment.

However, the country has not been able to use its macroeconomic success for improving the quality of life and living costs for an average Israeli citizen.

While the methods used for calculating the cost of living are different, economists agree that the cost of basic items like meat, oil, bread, eggs and dairy products is higher than it should be.

This is particularly in comparison to the 38 countries that are members of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), which are spread across Asia-Pacific, North and South America and Europe.

Israeli prices

According to recent research from Karnit Flug, the former Governor of the Bank of Israel, the prices in Israel are 40% higher than those in the Euro zone and 17% higher than that of the United States.

The primary reasons behind this difference is because of protectionist policies in place for local suppliers, red tape and monopolies on imports.

A separate survey was also conducted by the Israel Democracy Institute (IDI), which should that 44% of the voters in Israel gave top priority to living costs, as opposed to those who listed security and democracy.

This included the Iran conflict, as well as the Palestinian conflict. Regardless, these economic issues are not likely to break the deadlock between Lapid and Netanyahu’s bloc.

Yochanan Plesner, the IDI President, said that they were identity politics is the focus and there is virtually no movement between blocs.

Amir Yaron, the current Governor of the Bank of Israel, said that long-term growth can only be ensured through reforms, which means that the government’s lack of continuity is becoming detrimental.

He said that the repeated election cycles were the reason behind this difficulty.

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