It seems there is a limit to rabbinical influence and perhaps even an erosion of their authority, if what has happened in the Beit Shemesh municipal election can be used as a barometer of such things.
The mayoral election in the city is, at press time, very delicately balanced between incumbent Charedi mayor Moshe Abutbul (Shas) and his religious-Zionist challenger Aliza Bloch.
It appears that there have been significant numbers of Charedi residents who voted for Bloch despite the instructions of the leading Charedi rabbis to vote for Abutbul.
And it appears that there are many more who, despite the instructions of the rabbis to go out and vote for Abutbul, either stayed at home or voted only for the municipal council and not for mayor.
This phenomenon is somewhat surprising and almost unprecedented given that the incumbent mayor was endorsed by the entire spectrum of Charedi rabbinic leaders – Sephardi, non-hassidic and Chassidic alike.