Nov 23, 2011

Evolution Of Haredi Politics

I find it very interesting to watch the evolution of Haredi politics. In Jerusalem the Haredi community has grown tremendously, with it they have attained great political influence. Under the mayorship of Ehud Olmert they achieved levels of influence never before dreamed of, and that led to even achieving the election of a Haredi mayor.

For whatever reason, they lost some of that power after serious infighting. One could say the Haredi mayor was successful because he was supported by many secular as well, considering how well he was liked for his philanthropic deeds and his success in building an empire out of Yad Sarah. The next elections saw askanim running for power, rather than well-liked successful businessmen and philanthropists, and perhaps that turned people away, along with the division of votes because of infighting. And that led to the election of Nir Barkat as mayor instead of the haredi candidates. one could even say that the haredi influence in Jerusalem politics has been on a downswing ever since.

Many of the tactics, and political maneuvering, had been based on relying on low voter turnout among the secular public, multiple secular candidates splitting the secular vote, and maintaining tight ranks among the religious and/or haredi voters while getting them to vote in high percentages. With the tables turned on them in Jerusalem  the haredi vote was split, the secular were motivated and had high turnout (not as high as haredi, but higher than normal), secular unity around one candidate, and the like, they kind of lost their way. One could look at Bet Shemesh as a good example of haredi unity, even among different groups that normally dont necessarily work together, has helped them achieve great success.

In Jerusalem now, reports have it, the Haredi community has realized its mistakes in the previous elections and  is looking for a way out. Instead of deciding which askan is the most powerful, best connected to which rav or admor, and promoting him as the candidate, they are going back to the basics that brought them the success of the 90s and the early 2000s. Reports have it that the haredi askanim are seeking out a secular candidate who is sympathetic, or friendly, to the haredi community who they feel they can support in the next mayoral elections against Nir Barkat (in two more years).

They have realized that a secular candidate, and only presenting one candidate, will retain the regular haredi unified voting, but will also split the secular vote, as many secular would also support such a candidate (rather than a haredi askan who would only have support within the haredi community).

the evolution of haredi politics in Jerusalem saw the power rise, increase to the point where they thought they controlled the city, then dropped considerably leaving them in disarray, and now they are getting back to the basics.


  1. As a more "modern" Chareidi, I am pleased to say that Barakat has done an excellent job of being the Mayor. The charedim are in the coalition (along with almost every other party) and things are mostly worked out via negotiations.
    I shudder at the thought of another Haredi mayor.

  2. A better explanation: the charedi mayor, Uri Lupoliansky, was incompetent. Hence, a competent candidate, with real world business experience won.

  3. Charedim Uber AllesNovember 23, 2011 3:43 PM

    Much of the Charedi "evolution" in politics is actually regression.

    Having gedolim come to a particular population and "intimidate" them to vote a certain way is a standard practice that could hardly be called progressive.

    Effective maybe but certainly not progressive.

  4. perhaps the root cause of the various fights wasn't party politics but the realization that different groups have different interests and no one single party will be able to paper over said differences

  5. LTC- the reason for it is certainly debatable. However, I dont think most people considered Lapoliansky to be incompetent.


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