Opinion: The right-wing economic agenda is dead

Keren Ofek
Oct 25, 2022

The tie between the political blocs will likely repeat itself in the current elections. Still, according to the polls and trends, we can almost confidently say that Israel’s economic right is collapsing and will not be with us in the next Knesset.

The two parties born from the fragments of the disintegrated right-wing party: “The Jewish Home” of Ayelet Shaked and “Economic Freedom” of Abir Kara, fail to, according to the polls, pass the mandate threshold.

Privatization plans led by Naftali Bennett and Moshe Feiglin have been shelved, and their place is being filled by a conservative right-wing agenda regarding the justice system.

So how does it happen that the economic right does not benefit from the same trend that the political right-wing has been enjoying for two decades in Israel? Because the Israelis favor social sensitivity, they support workers’ rights and unions, oppose predatory privatization, and believe in social solidarity. Large parts of them are unionized in workplaces, and they do not share a republican worldview that seems detached and distant to them. The progressive campaigns promoted by the right-wing research institutes do not penetrate Israeli society. The attempts of Abir Kara, Naftali Bennett, and Ayelet Shaked to lead an economic agenda led to the end of the economic right in the political game.

The right-wing economic agenda is dead, and over the years, fewer right-wing voters identify as “capitalists,” and not without reason, right-wing voters are the ones who mainly suffer from the wage gap and the rising cost of living when only 26% of right-wing voters earn above average, compared to 38% in the center and 33 % on the left.

Although the economic issue is hardly mentioned in the current political agenda in the election campaigns, the economic issues at hand are still alive and touch every home in Israel. This parameter plays a significant role in the reality of dramatic price increases and rising inflation.

The previous major economic crisis, which led to the social protest in 2011, led to a wave of unionization in the economy, including in the finance, insurance, and cellular industries, because the public believes in social solidarity and in the protection of workers. The current crisis may lead to another wave of organizing and unionization.

All over the world, there is now more serious left-wing economic discourse that challenges the axioms of neoliberalism and is gaining strength and sympathy among broad audiences. This economic agenda can also be a tie-breaker in the political game because the public feels in their wallets and bank accounts the need to protect their most precious resources: their family and assets.

Originally published in Globes in Hebrew

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