If voter turnout in 2013 ends up being the same as in 2008, it will still be too low. All the negative commentary about low voter turnout in 2008 is still valid and legitimate, all the more so since nothing has improved in the last five years.
Two opposing conclusions can be drawn. First, the public response is disappointing. I don't mean disappointing in the distorted sense that "if this is the will of the nation, we need a different nation," the comment attributed to Yitzhak Ben-Aharon in 1977 when he heard that the Right had carried the elections. Nevertheless, the public failed to display the maturity one would expect.
On the other hand, the public desertion of the polls expresses a widespread lack of faith in the democratic process at the municipal level. Citizens did not just refrain from exercising their right to vote. This was a silent protest. Both conclusions are troubling.
Shlomi Lahiani's election in Bat Yam is outrageous. Needless to say, we must immediately pass a law saying that someone indicted on charges that carry moral turpitude cannot remain in office. But on a deeper level, we need a sociologist to explain how the public could vote for a man with such a dark shadow cast over him.
It's possible to make excuses. The accused mayor obviously enjoys the presumption of innocence until proved guilty. And Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein spent too much time toiling away at the indictment rather than serving it two years ago. The same thing that happened with Avigdor Lieberman and the file on Gabi Ashkenazi and Boaz Harpaz repeated itself in Bat Yam. Nevertheless, once indicted, how could the public possibly stand by Lahiani? Has the attitude towards potential criminals changed and softened?
It doesn't matter whether 22 or 42 percent of the public voted in Bat Yam. What's significant is that there wasn't a crushing majority who sought to deny Lahiani another term when he first needs to settle his affairs in court.
The great battleground was Jerusalem. Mayoral candidates Nir Barkat and Moshe Lion are merely secondary players in a great drama. What is really at stake are the political fates of Aryeh Deri and Avigdor Lieberman. The first is a released prisoner and the second awaits the decision of the blindfolded goddess of justice.
The fallout? Pressure by Shas on Yisrael Beteynu to dismantle the government. Or alternatively, heavy pressure on Lierberman to bring Deri into the government, with all the budgetary and constitutional implications of such a step.