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Early legislative elections were held in Israel on 9 April 2019 to elect the 120 members of the 21st Knesset. Elections had been due in November 2019, but were brought forward following a dispute between members of the current government over a bill on national service for the ultra-Orthodox population, as well as impending corruption charges against incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Elections for the 21st Knesset
Israel
← 2015 9 April 2019 Next →
Turnout68.41%
Party Leader % Seats ±
Likud Benjamin Netanyahu 26.46% 35 +5
Blue and White Benny Gantz 26.13% 35 +24
Shas Aryeh Deri 5.99% 8 +1
UTJ Yaakov Litzman 5.78% 8 +2
HadashTa'al Ayman Odeh 4.49% 6 0
Labor Avi Gabbay 4.43% 6 -13
Yisrael Beiteinu Avigdor Lieberman 4.01% 5 -1
United Right Rafi Peretz 3.70% 5 -3
Meretz Tamar Zandberg 3.63% 4 -1
Kulanu Moshe Kahlon 3.54% 4 -6
Ra'amBalad Mansour Abbas 3.33% 4 -3
This lists parties that won seats. See the complete results below.
Prime Minister before
Benjamin Netanyahu 2018.jpg Benjamin Netanyahu
Likud

Netanyahu's Likud tied with Blue and White alliance of Benny Gantz, both winning 35 seats. The balance of power is held by smaller parties, with right-wing and religious parties that have previously sat in coalition with Likud, potentially allowing Netanyahu to form the next government.

Contents

BackgroundEdit

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman had opposed a draft law (supported by the ultra-Orthodox parties) which would allow full-time Torah students exemptions from serving in the IDF.[1] Meretz and Yesh Atid submitted a proposal on 12 March 2018 seeking the dissolution of the Knesset.[2] Early elections were averted at that point in time.[3]

Lieberman would eventually leave the government over the cease-fire with Hamas in Gaza.[4][5] This leaves the governing coalition with 61 seats (out of 120 in total).[6] The Jewish Home announced on 16 November that it will leave the government, as Naftali Bennett (the head of the party) was not given Lieberman's former Defense Ministry post.[7] Reports were that Netanyahu would not be giving the post to Bennett and was to meet with other coalition leaders on 18 November to determine a date for early election.[8] However, after further discussion, Bennett decided to stay on as education minister, narrowly avoiding the collapse of the Netanyahu government again.[9] However, continued dysfunction over various issues, including military service for the ultra-Orthodox, caused parliament to dissolve and early elections to be called for 9 April 2019.[10] Had early elections not been called, the regularly-scheduled elections would have taken place seven months later, on 5 November 2019.

Electoral systemEdit

The 120 seats in the Knesset are elected by closed list proportional representation in a single nationwide constituency. The electoral threshold for the election is 3.25%. In most cases, this implies a minimum party size of four seats, but on some occasions, a party can end up with three.[11]

While election day was on 9 April 2019, polls opened in embassies around the world on 28 March.[12]

Surplus-vote agreementsEdit

Two party lists can sign an agreement that allows them to compete for leftover seats as though they are running together. The Bader–Ofer method disproportionately favors larger lists, meaning that such an alliance is more likely to receive leftover seats than both of its comprising lists would be individually. If the alliance receives leftover seats, the Bader–Ofer calculation is then applied privately, to determine how the seats are divided among the two allied lists.[13] The following agreements were signed by parties prior to the election:

Parliament factionsEdit

The table below lists the parliamentary factions represented in the 20th Knesset.

Name Ideology Leader 2015 result Seats at 2018
dissolution
Votes (%) Seats
Likud Conservatism,[19] national conservatism,[20] national liberalism, economic liberalism Benjamin Netanyahu 23.40%
30 / 120
30 / 120
Labor Social liberalism, social democracy, progressivism, Labor Zionism Avi Gabbay 18.67%[a]
18 / 120
19 / 120
Hatnuah Liberal Zionism, Two-state solution, environmentalism, secularism, economic liberalism Tzipi Livni
6 / 120
5 / 120
Joint List Israeli Arab interests, big tent, anti-Zionism, non-Zionism Ayman Odeh 10.54%[b]
11 / 120
12 / 120
Ta'al Arab nationalism, Israeli Arab interests, secularism, anti-Zionism Ahmad Tibi
2 / 120
1 / 120
Yesh Atid Liberal Zionism, centrism Yair Lapid 8.81%
11 / 120
11 / 120
Kulanu Social liberalism, consumer protection, liberal Zionism Moshe Kahlon 7.49%
10 / 120
10 / 120
Jewish Home Religious Zionism, religious nationalism, religious conservatism, settler interests Rafi Peretz 6.74%
8 / 120
5 / 120
Shas Haredi interests, Sephardic and Mizrahi interests, Orthodox Halacha, religious conservatism Aryeh Deri 5.73%
7 / 120
7 / 120
United Torah Judaism Ashkenazi/Haredi interests, Orthodox Halacha, religious conservatism Yaakov Litzman 5.03%
6 / 120
6 / 120
Yisrael Beiteinu Russian speakers' interests, national conservatism Avigdor Lieberman 5.11%
6 / 120
5 / 120
Meretz Social democracy, green politics, progressivism Tamar Zandberg 3.93%
5 / 120
5 / 120
New Right Nationalism, national conservatism, religioussecular partnership, economic liberalism Naftali Bennett,
Ayelet Shaked
N/A
3 / 120
Independent Orly Levy
N/A
1 / 120
  1. ^ Hatnuah and the Labor Party ran as a joint list called the Zionist Union. Amir Peretz was elected as a member of Hatnuah, but defected to Labor before the split.
  2. ^ Ta'al ran as part of the Joint List and split off before the 2019 elections. Due to rotation agreements, one seat Ta'al initially held in the Knesset rotated to other factions of the Joint List.

Public expression of interestEdit

WithdrawalsEdit

  • Tzipi Livni announced on 18 February 2019 that her Hatnuah party would not contest the election.[38]
  • Left-wing activist Eldad Yaniv announced on 30 December 2018 that he would re-form his 2013 party named "Eretz Hadasha", which would have run in the upcoming election,[39] though Yaniv dropped out of the race following the revealing of the Gantz/Lapid joint list on 20 February 2019.[40]
  • The Green Leaf party announced on 20 February 2019 that it would not participate in the election.[41]
  • Haredi Women's College founder Adina Bar-Shalom had expressed interest in participating in the elections with her newly-formed, but unregistered, party Ahi Yisraeli,[42][43] though the party announced its withdrawal on 26 February 2019.[44]
  • Yom-Tov Samia announced the withdrawal of B'Yahad on 4 March 2019.[45]
  • Eli Yishai announced the withdrawal of Yachad on 27 March 2019.[46]

CampaignEdit

Some parties, like Likud, Labor, the Jewish Home, Zehut, and Meretz, have systems in which the leadership and most candidates on their lists are elected in primary elections.

Blue and WhiteEdit

Benny Gantz's Israel Resilience Party and Moshe Ya'alon's Telem unveiled its party slate on 19 February 2019.[47] Yair Lapid's Yesh Atid party unveiled its party slate on 18 February 2019.[48] On 21 February 2019, the three parties agreed to run on a united list named Blue and White.[49]

United RightEdit

The Jewish Home held its leadership primaries on 27 April 2017; Naftali Bennett won with 80.3% of the vote, Yonatan Branski received 12.2%, and Yitzhak Zagha received 7.47%.[50] In the aftermath of the formation of the New Right, and Bennett's leaving, the Jewish Home cancelled its primaries.[51] Rafi Peretz was elected leader of the Jewish Home on 4 February.[52]

The Tkuma party held its leadership primaries on 14 January 2019; Bezalel Smotrich defeated Uri Ariel.[53]

On 14 February 2019, Jewish Home agreed to run on a joint list with the Tkuma party. Jewish Home leader Rafi Peretz will head the joint list. Tkuma chair Bezalel Smotrich will be the number two.[31] On 20 February 2019, they agreed to include Otzma Yehudit in their list, to be titled the United Right.[32][54] The inclusion of Otzma Yehudit prompted strong criticism.[55][56][57]

LaborEdit

The Labor Party held its leadership primaries on 10 July 2017; Avi Gabbay defeated Amir Peretz in the run-off, with Isaac Herzog being defeated during the first round of voting.[58] The party held primaries on 11 February 2019 to choose members for its slate.[59]

LikudEdit

The Likud leadership primary election was originally scheduled for 23 February 2016 following Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's proposal,[60] and later cancelled by a party court on the basis that the Likud constitution did not require a vote when there was only one candidate.[61][62] Likud held the primary for the rest of its list on 5 February 2019, which resulted in several of Netanyahu's rivals winning senior spots.[63][64] Voting irregularities surfaced in the primary results. In some cases, specific candidates received more votes in some locales than the total number of ballots cast in those locales. The Likud party investigated the matter.[65] In the final results, Knesset speaker Yuli Edelstein came in first place, followed by Yisrael Katz, Gilad Erdan, Gideon Sa'ar, and Miri Regev.[66]

On 28 February 2019, the Attorney General, Avichai Mandelblit, announced his intent to indict Prime Minister Netanyahu on three charges which include bribery, fraud, and breach of trust. These include trading legislation for favorable press coverage.[67]

MeretzEdit

Meretz held its leadership primaries on 22 March 2018; Tamar Zandberg won with 71% of the vote, Avi Buskila received 29%.[68] Meretz held its primary on 14 February 2019.[69]

Yisrael BeiteinuEdit

Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beiteinu released its party slate on 19 February 2019.[70]

ZehutEdit

The Zehut party held Israel's first open primaries on 29 January 2019, in which all Israeli voters (including those living abroad) were able to vote via a secure online website. About 12,000 people voted in these primaries, which determined the order of the candidates who won in the party's internal primaries in September 2017.[71][72]

Opinion pollsEdit

GraphsEdit

These graphs show the polling trends from the time Knesset candidate lists were finalized on 21 February, until Friday before election day (5 April).

If more than one poll was conducted on the same day, the graphs show the average of the polls for that date.

BlocsEdit

 
Legend

Note: Political blocs do not necessarily determine the exact make-up of post-election coalitions.

PartiesEdit

 
 

* For parties not crossing the electoral threshold in any given poll, seats are calculated as a percentage of 120 total seats.

Allegations of misconductEdit

The HadashTa'al alliance filed a complaint requesting the removal of 1,200 concealed cameras in polling places in Arab communities.[77][78] A judge overseeing the election ordered the concealed equipment removed.[77] The company that set up the cameras, Kaizler Inbar, bragged about its role in social media posts.[79]

Fake IDs were used in Herzliya, and some voting slips for Blue & White, Meretz, Likud, Zehut, and Yisrael Beiteinu disappeared in Petah Tikva.

Shas was criticized for giving out candles at polling stations.[80][81]

ResultsEdit

Party/alliance Votes % Seats +/–
Likud 1,140,370 26.46 35 +5
Blue & White 1,125,881 26.13 35 +24
Shas 258,275 5.99 8 +1
United Torah Judaism 249,049 5.78 8 +2
HadashTa'al 193,442 4.49 6 0
Labor 190,870 4.43 6 –13
Yisrael Beiteinu 173,004 4.01 5 –1
United Right 159,468 3.70 5 –3
Meretz 156,473 3.63 4 –1
Kulanu 152,756 3.54 4 –6
United Arab ListBalad 143,666 3.33 4 –3
New Right 138,598 3.22 0 New
Zehut 118,031 2.74 0 New
Gesher 74,701 1.73 0 New
Betah 4,618 0.11 0 New
The Arab List (ANPMada) 4,135 0.10 0 0
Social Justice 3,843 0.09 0 New
Shield of Israel 3,394 0.08 0 New
Justice for All 3,281 0.08 0 New
Tzomet 2,417 0.06 0 New
Yashar 1,438 0.03 0 New
Zekhuyotenu BeKoleinu 1,316 0.03 0 New
Veteran Civil 1,168 0.03 0 New
Kol Yisrael Ahim 1,140 0.03 0 New
Pirate Party of Israel 819 0.02 0 0
Pashut Ahava 733 0.02 0 New
Eretz Yisrael Shelanu 701 0.02 0 New
We are all friends Na Nach 624 0.01 0 0
MeHathala 603 0.02 0 New
Hope for Change 562 0.01 0 0
Green Economy – One Nation 556 0.01 0 0
Education 518 0.01 0 New
Ahrayut LaMeyasdim 428 0.01 0 New
Human Dignity 404 0.01 0 New
Shavim 401 0.01 0 New
Manhigut Hevratit 385 0.01 0 New
Ani VeAta 368 0.01 0 New
Bible Bloc 353 0.01 0 New
Ihud Bnei HaBrit 265 0.01 0 New
Brit Olam 216 0.01 0 0
Invalid/blank votes 30,983
Total 4,340,253 100 120 0
Registered voters/turnout 6,339,729 68.46
Source: CEC

Members of the Knesset who lost their seatsEdit

Party Name Year elected
Blue and White Aliza Lavie 2013
Gesher Orly Levy 2009
Kulanu Tali Ploskov 2015
Meirav Ben-Ari 2015
Akram Hasson 2016
Fentahun Seyoum 2019
Israeli Labor Party Merav Michaeli 2013
Omer Bar-Lev 2013
Revital Swid 2015
Haim Jelin 2015
Michal Biran 2013
Eitan Cabel 1996[82]
Yael Cohen Paran 2015
Saleh Saad 2017
Leah Fadida 2017
Nachman Shai 2009
Moshe Mizrahi 2018
Likud Ayoob Kara 2015
Yehuda Glick 2016
Nurit Koren 2015
Anat Berko 2015
Yaron Mazuz 2015
Avraham Neguise 2015
Nava Boker 2015
Meretz Mossi Raz 2017
New Right Naftali Bennett 2013
Ayelet Shaked 2013
Shuli Mualem 2013
Tzomet Oren Hazan 2015
United Arab List Talab Abu Arar 2013
Said al-Harumi 2017
Yisrael Beiteinu Hamad Amar 2009

Government formationEdit

Leader of Blue and White faction Benny Gantz conceded, paving the way for incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to start talks with other parties to form a governing coalition.[83] On 15 and 16 April, leaders of all the parties who won seats in the Knesset met with President Reuven Rivlin to recommend a designated person to form a government. Netanyahu received recommendations from leaders representing 65 seats in the Knesset, whereas Gantz received recommendations from leaders representing only 45 seats in the Knesset. Leaders of the two Arab parties, representing 10 seats in the Knesset, declined to make any recommendation. Based on the recommendations he received, Rivlin designated Netanyahu to form the next governing coalition.

See alsoEdit

NotesEdit

  1. ^ Kulanu is a centre to centre-right party that has expressed openness to serve in either a Likud- or Blue & White-led government.[73]
  2. ^ Zehut is a right-wing libertarian party that has expressed openness to serve in either a Likud- or Blue & White-led government.[74]
  3. ^ Blue & White has expressed its intention not to form a coalition with Ra'am-Balad or Hadash-Ta'al.[75]
  4. ^ Gesher is a centre-left party that has expressed openness to serve in either a Likud- or Blue & White-led government.[76]

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External linksEdit