Red flags over Haifa or political magic session

Elections in Haifa 2018. Collage Anna Utkina

October 30, key day of the mayors and local councils candidates election political show is coming.  

«One Thousand and One Nights» till the elections in Haifa

The closer the final, the more globally must be the candidates’ promises, and the more radical the threat to voters according to show business laws in a political game to retain the participants’ interest.

All candidates seem to be confident of their victory, all deals have already been made, and, it would seem, all the tools and arguments in the struggle for the electorate minds have already been used. The headquartТers can only reap their «political technologists’» and agitators’ activities benefits.

Now it’s time to look aside of the things mentioned by the mayoral candidates and analyze which main influencing potential voters and manipulating their opinion methods are used in the «local elections» show while using the examples.

Now two real candidates have been identified in Haifa mayor elections: Yona Yahav, the current mayor and Einat Kalisch-Rotem, the opposition leader in the city council. The «victories and defeats» of the permanent mayor having been served for 15 years, are clearly visible while it is interesting to consider his main competitor campaign for the show analysis.

Haifa mayoral elections dramaturgy requires its fabulist to describe in detail the emotional suffering, unexpected joys and answers to the eternal «Russian» questions «what to do?» and «who is to blame?».

Not the elections, but the «eastern fairy-tale» plot which reflects the fight between the positive hero (i.e. Einat Kalisch, the opposition leader) with the evil forces for getting a brighter future. Here we can see the evil forces machinations, which incorrectly prepared the documents, which resulted in the election race leaving and the long intrigue of «passing» through the courts with passion and expectation and the victory of «good» with the otherworldly forces’ help represented by the Supreme Court of Justice. It seems like everything is going to result in the epic victory of good over evil in the first round.

But let’s back to the reality. In one Haifa Likud’s propaganda video during the conversation of Benjamin Netanyahu Prime Minister with Shimshon Ido, Likud list leader, the Prime Minister says it’s necessary to vote for Likud in order to lower the red flag in Haifa. But on the Israeli News Press news website on the contrary it is claimed that there is a chance for HaAvoda to once again raise the red flag over Haifa thanks to Kalish-Rotem for many years. Left-right confrontation is relevant for election campaigning in local elections including beyond Haifa.    

A beautiful «red flags» image, symbolizing Israel’s left-wing political spectrum, is a proven increasing adrenaline method among Israeli political shows participants. Horror story for a certain part of the electorate and a tool to fight with the participants.

Adar’s «Paradise».

However, Knesset elections are planned for 2019 and we have yet to participate in the epic political parties and projects ideologies struggle.

Local elections, for example of Haifa ones, are reduced to the city budget and economic projects distribution in the city. And the main struggle is for the absolute city owner, i.e. mayor place.

Political agreements which can be observed within the current struggle are often reduced to a trivial bargaining: «we provide you with our voters’, party members’ votes  or money while the mayor after victory will provide us with deputies positions and city budget». Naturally, everything is being done for the city’s bright future and citizens welfare increasing. This is the «iron» political traders’ logic.

But the election process’ goal is not just getting money. Show business requires emotions and passions, which means there are presented high goals and moral authority. The electorate, which doesn’t participate and often inadequately responds to the candidates’ «political arrangements», may refuse to come and take part in the «national trust» show. As we all know, mobilization is impossible without electorate motivation which absence can’t force the voter, except for direct bribery, to give away his own ballot which is the most coveted thing he has. 

Theoretically, both negative and positive main manipulations types are used to enhance the electoral process lower participants’ emotions and passions.

«Negative manipulation» is used to mobilize the electoral group to hate another population part. For example, the Russian-speaking people hate Arabs. Ultra-religious parties’ сandidates consolidate their flock through the negative to Russian-speaking. Russian-speaking candidates reciprocate their colleagues by releasing videos with scary Hareddim dominance stories.

«Negative manipulation» slogans and appeals, which are used by the candidates for their voters, are the electorate governing tool free of political meaning. For example, the «Our Home Israel» party list intended for the Haifa City Council which built its campaign to intensify anti-Arab sentiments among Russian-speaking voters, did not refuse to combine own efforts to support Einat Kalisch together  with left-wing Avoda and Meretz, the parties following «Arab-oriented» policy.  «Red flags over Haifa» did not frighten David Etzioni either, who positioned himself as a right fighter against the Arab domination.

«Negative manipulation» is also used in relation to «forerunners», i.e. the current government, which scared everyone with the horrors, currently mobilizing electorate. By the way, experience shows that new city owners (forerunners) will be blamed in all policy failures later.

The fact is not the only fears manipulate the voter.

For example, it is difficult to appreciate several electric escalators importance from Talpiot city market to central Carmel. But they will turn Adar into a tourist center according to Einat Kalisch, urban planning master. The main thing is that people will not be forced to walk the stairs. And indeed, it will be rather convenient to climb while using an escalator with shopping bags from Talpiot bazaar. Artists’ workshops, bars and shops will surround the escalators.

I do not know the current project cost, it is obvious it is not included in the General Haifa Development Plan and the providing money for it will require city planning to be held it manually which is opposed by the potential opposition mayor.

Global promises within «positive manipulation» strongly disagree with those geopolitical and economic processes which include Haifa or parasitize on «forerunners» while promising changes and projects already adopted by the old power. 

Populism charisma 

A bright future in the candidates election programs is the electorate wishes manifestation in most cases. The candidate, within «positive manipulation», abuses fears, basic needs and various social groups myths.

Specific issues discussion is replaced by group values and their expectations discussion. There are several reasons for such behavior:

  • socio-economic and socio-political issues complexity the candidate promises to resolve;
  • the need to change the socio-political system, which functioning led to the issues arising promised to be resolved;
  • lack of technical capacity to resolve the current issue due to the real socio-economic situation in the city.

All the above mentioned is the main political populism reason and is observed in electoral processes in both Israel and many other countries.

But the mayors elections in Haifa are interesting by manipulation tools and political populism combination with the «charismatic» leader promotion. This is not typical of local elections since «charisma» is most often used in national elections as a serious political technology resource.

«Charismatic leader» cannot exist without populism and the impact technologies used by totalitarian sects. I repeat Einat Kalisch-Rotem mayor candidate’s headquarters was the only one which used the «charismatic leader» technology.

Here are some of the sectarian practices principles which are clearly manifested during the electoral process:

  • leader’s charisma and personal contact emphasis as a condition for joining the group;

The headquarters built its work with volunteers based on voters attraction to a personal meeting with the candidate, but not on not on the information dissemination by volunteers. «Candidate’s charisma» main thesis will play its important role.

  • the world division into friends and foes;

The reluctance to listen to the objective opposing party’s arguments resulted in total opponents blocking in social networks and the constant internal «sociological polls» use to support the positive supporters’ expectations of a charismatic mayor candidate.

  • aggressive «group values» propaganda and discussions denial;

Active individual supporters’ appeals placement with the same charismatic leader’s arguments and values type. At the same time, these texts looked like the influence tool through empathy on the electorate’s expectations and fears. 

Both headquarters members and active Einat Kalisch’ volunteers posted their revelations while rather emotionally commenting on each other. As far as I can see, these empathic appeals also were included into agitation newspaper, issued in the last days before the elections by Einat Kalish’ headquarters in Russian as an important component.

 «Сharismatic person» can’t support discussions with other candidates. First of all, the «charismatic person» means a bit unusual person, cleverer and more enlightened. A candidate should not be humiliated before enemies who are going to defame him with the wrong questions. Secondly, the candidate alienation from other candidates confirms his uniqueness for electoral sect members.

  • positioning the leader, as a savior for both the group members and erring city dwellers, who must support the leader in order to «save the habitat»;

Social animals, including humans have a hierarchical instinct associated with the individual self-preservation instinct and sexual one. Sect hierarchy, as the society one, is intended to minimize intragroup conflicts and more secure coexistence. People tend to embed themselves in simple and clear hierarchies, when an alpha female or alpha male is perceived as the main authority and «savior» from the world horrors.

There is Dunbar number indicator which determines the social connections number which can be maintained by a person. A person has this indicator equal to 150 individuals, although it can vary up to 230-250 for the cleverest persons. 

All who do not fit into these 150 individuals are strangers and cause wariness and aggression. Model: the «group- leader-alien» is natural for a person as a social animal and is the basis for the electorate mobilizing and manipulating it. Combined with totalitarian sects practitioners, this model works extremely efficiently.

One more extremely important rule of such groups is only a villain or a dead person can leave it. I checked this rule on myself, so I can say with confidence it is fundamental in the «charismatic candidate» supporters separation into friends and foes.

Instead of an epilogue: or the voter’s memo

If you are paranoid, it does not mean no one is watching after you. Today while having the Internet and social networks era, some algorithms allow people to find out more your data on Facebook then is known to your colleagues, on 150 your likes people may find out more your data than is known to your parents, and on 300 your likes you will let people know more your data than is known to your husband or wife.

Political advertising has long been targeted and takes into account recipients’ the characteristics, their political or economic priorities, their values and fears. You are in a constant «psychometric test» by the Internet giants and government agencies thanks to your «digital footprint».

Use a few simple approaches while choosing the mayor if you couldn’t join totalitarian election sects:

  • Take a deep breath and think about the way the candidate can fulfill this, and whether he will be able to do it at all given the issues resolving experience and level Having read the election promise.
  • If someone tries to get involved you while using «negative manipulation», remember how many years such a method was applied to you and what your life improvements have been achieved thanks to any party or candidate which used such methods. 
  • Be sure it doesn’t matter what they promise; it’s important whom they sign agreements with. And if the mayor candidate unites with the parties, look the way these organizations political and economic platforms coincide. This may be just a banal bargaining for your vote.

On the other hand, you can get calm confidence in the future together with the “urban charismatic person” or “charismatic persons”, at least for the elections period.

Igor Kaminnik


О Igor Kaminnyk

Игорь Каминник много лет занимался вопросами социальной мобилизации и проблемами социальной политики в странах бывшего СССР. Проходил стажировку в США и других странах мира по организации адвокационных кампаний и лоббированию социального законодательства. Разрабатывал и успешно лоббировал законопроекты на уровне Верховной Рады Украины, на уровне регионов и местных советов.

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