There have already been allegations of election day shenanigans – a police man was injured by a group of haredim who were trying to prevent people from voting. The Barkat campaign is also alleging that Barkat ballots had been stolen from a polling station. These sorts of shenanigans have left a bad taste in my mouth – on several nights last week I’ve witnessed Yeshiva students tearing down and even burning Barkat posters at Machane Yehuda. At one point they even assaulted (!!) an old man passing by who tried to photograph what they were doing. I’m appalled of course and Porush will never get my vote – but I am still hoping that this kind of thuggery is exceptional and that most of our Haredi neighbors are law abiding citizens who don’t condone this sort of behavior.
UPDATE: As of 2:40 am Jerusalem time, with 118 of 707 polling stations counted, Barkat had received 46% of the votes, Porush 27%, Gaydamak 21%. Dan Biron, the Marijuana Leaf candidate got 1%. So far Barkat is doing a little less than what was predicted, Porush is tanking and Gaydamak is doing surprisingly well. But given the stratified nature of Jerusalem’s neighborhoods, anything is still possible. It’s going to be a long night, but at least Barkat seems to be well on his way to a victory. The final tally of eligible voters who voted is 41% – 3% more than voted in the last election. It’s an improvement of course, but given the tremendous efforts made to get the voters out by all parties involved, the low turnout might symbolize voter apathy and lack of faith in their municipal government. I wonder if this is a sign of things to come when the national elections take place in February….
FINAL UPDATE: Yup. Despite the low voter turnout it looks as if Nir Barkat is about to be declared the winner of this election and the next Mayor of Jerusalem. The Jerusalem Post now reports that with 264 of 707 polling stations’ votes counted, Barkat has received 52% of the vote, MK Meir Porush of the United Torah Judaism Party 38%, and Israeli-Russian billionaire tycoon Arcadi Gaydamak 6.5%. Barkat is set to give a victory speech at his headquarters off of Emek Refaim street shortly.