Tel Aviv Municipal Elections 2024

Tel Aviv Municipal Elections 2024

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The Vote

On February 27th Tel Aviv residents will vote in Municipal elections. The last election demonstrates a large increase in voter turnout, with “over 200,000 people” voting in 2018 compared to 2013 “in which about 140,000 people voted.” 1Timeout Citizens will be electing a mayor to run the council via a yellow ballot and 31 council members to manage the affairs of the city via a blue ballot.

Mayoral Candidates

There are two main frontrunners for the mayoral candidacy, Ron Huldai and Orna Barbivai. Polling taken in June of 2023 put Huldai and Barbivai at 29% and 23% respectively, demonstrating the potential for a close race. 2Midgam

Yuval Zellner, a former paratrooper, and long serving member of the Knesset, is also in the running. He is affiliated with Kadima, a more progressive branch-off from the LIkud party. Kadima literally translates as “forward” and Zellner is said to be appealing to the younger demographics within Tel Aviv. 

Huldai has been mayor of Tel Aviv since 1998 bringing years of experience to the contested office. Coming from a decorated career in the IDF, he achieved the rank of Brigadier General serving within the Air Force, and is known to have shot down three enemy aircraft in the Six Day War.

Huldai is supported by the Labor party but runs as an independent candidate under the party name Tel Aviv 1. He is a big proponent of community cohesion and has dedicated his faculties to propelling Tel Aviv into the liberal innovative tech hub it is known as today. With a large focus on building infrastructure, most notably the Lightrail in recent years, he describes the modern development of Tel Aviv as a “true revolution” and that soon “there will be a train station within 500 meters of every person in the city.” 3Globes

Barbivai also comes from a prestigious military career. She served for 31 years in the IDF and is the first woman to ever achieve the rank of Major General. Representing the Yesh Atid-Telem centrist party, Barbivai has influential political experience. She chaired the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, and held the office of Minister of Economy. 

Barbivai is campaigning for mayor as a fresh and new alternative in contrast to Huldai’s years of experience holding the office. In recent interviews she gives a respectful nod to Huldai’s track record, saying “he is a good mayor that has contributed a lot”, but after so many years of Huldai being mayor she believes it is time to make sure “Tel Aviv-Jaffa is transferred into the right hands”. 4Israel National News

To further distinguish herself from Huldai, Barbivai also suggests his fast and pervasive city “planning could have been approached differently”. She expresses that she would be more conscientious of citizens’ daily lives being affected by infrastructure development, and does not want to threaten their “feeling of control”. 5Times of Israel

Council Elections

For the regional council of Tel Aviv a wide range of parties will be competing for the 31 seats.

Tel Aviv 1 (תל אביב 1 בראשות רון חולדאי ואסף זמיר) belongs to Huldai and holds five seats on the council prior to elections. It is known for having a big impact on the current political landscape of Tel Aviv. The party stays true to Huldai’s policies: it’s known for cementing Tel Aviv as a progressive bastion contrasting to the current conservative leanings of the nation of Israel at large.

Barbivai’s Yesh Atid-Telem (יש עתיד והתל אביבים בראשות אורנה ברביבאי) is also in the race. They are associated with advocating for political reform, education, and equal military and civil service for all Israelis. Telem, which is part of this alliance, is a center-right party focusing on national liberalism.

Aside from these two main parties battling it out for the most seats, there’s a plethora of lesser known but vital representative parties of different sub-cultures and communities within Tel Aviv:

The Green (חי – חילונים ירוקים עם לדיאנסקי ופורז):  party provides a focus on environmental issues and sustainability within the city. They also represent a secular base that combat religious coercion in varying neighborhoods of Tel Aviv.

We Are the City (כולנו העיר יאפא – תל אביב): spearheaded by Amir Badran advocates the importance of Jewish/Arab unity and collective collaborative living, often organizing volunteer drives to assist disadvantaged communities and reach hands across the political aisle.

Meretz ‘Green of Centre’(כל המחאה בפתק אחד חוזה חדש הירוק במרכז מרצ תל אביב-יפו): Formed in the last few days, this coalition has been made to offset the perceived threat of ultra-conservative racist parties posing the risk of introducing increased racism into the fabric of progressive Tel Aviv life.

Parties with a clear stance on Jewish representation are also at the forefront of elections:

Shas (שס תל אביב יפו בראשות אלחנן זבולון מיסודו של מרן הרב עובדיה יוסף זצ”ל) is a well known ultra-orthodox Jewish political party in Israel, focusing primarily on the interests of the Separdic and Mizrahi Haredi community, including religious and social issues.

Maaminim Tel Aviv is an alliance between the Jewish Home and United Torah Judaism parties in Tel Aviv, led by Deputy Mayor Chaim Goren. They place an emphasis on direct studying of the Torah and embodying that in daily life.

Likud-Otzma-Yehudit (הליכוד תל אביב יפו) is a well known powerful party linked to current prime minister Netenyahu. They are considered far-right and advocate nationalist policies with a strong stance on Jewish identity and sovereignty.

There are other important political parties in the election advocating for specific vulnerable identity groups within Tel Aviv:

The Equal List (הרשימה השווה): Are advocates for the LGBT residents of Tel Aviv. However, they place an emphasis on representing everyone in Tel Aviv with an emphasis on mass equality: “Our goals are practical solutions for population groups and also unique solutions for the community itself”. 6WDG

The Youth Faction (סיעת הצעירים – לוקחים אחריות על העיר בראשות חן קראוס): This new party was formed on the backdrop of October 7th. Many young reservists have felt neglected by the municipality after being called up to serve. The war has obviously affected their studies and wellbeing. The party advocates to make sure the city does not forget them in this incredibly difficult time, and calls on the city to do their due diligence and protect their young reservists.

The City’s Residents (תושבי העיר בראשות סיגל ויצמן): Was formed to “promote burning issues that are on the agenda of the residents of the city of Tel Aviv-Jaffa.” 7Mekomi  They emphasize issues such as the cost of living, affordable housing, security in public spaces, transportation on Shabbat, and more.

Faction for Retiree (סיעת הגימלאים והאזרחים הוותיקים): This party is specifically formed to make sure senior citizens have their voice heard within the Tel Aviv political sphere. They take care of pension related issues and keep in mind the experience of the elderly for city infrastructure and social care.

Tel Avivians will have important decisions to make come February 27th. For mayor will they stick with the tried and true or opt instead for a fresh change and reinvigorate local politics? For the regional council and its 31 member seats, there are many options to choose between, and people will need to show up and vote if they want their specific needs or identities represented.