2021 Israeli legislative election

Legislative elections were held in Israel on 23 March 2021 to elect the 120 members of the 24th Knesset. It was the fourth Knesset election in two years, amidst the continued political deadlock following the previous three elections in April 2019, September 2019 and 2020. Yair Lapid and Naftali Bennett announced that they had formed a rotation government on 2 June 2021, which was approved on 13 June 2021.

2021 Israeli legislative election
← 2020 23 March 2021[1] 2022 →

All 120 seats in the Knesset
61 seats needed for a majority
Turnout67.44% (Decrease 4.08 pp)
Party Leader % Seats +/–
Likud Benjamin Netanyahu 24.19 30 -7
Yesh Atid Yair Lapid 13.93 17 +4
Shas Aryeh Deri 7.17 9 0
Blue and White Benny Gantz 6.63 8 -7
Yamina Naftali Bennett 6.21 7 +4
Labor Merav Michaeli 6.09 7 +4
UTJ Moshe Gafni 5.63 7 0
Yisrael Beiteinu Avigdor Lieberman 5.63 7 0
Religious Zionist Bezalel Smotrich 5.12 6 +4
Joint List Ayman Odeh 4.82 6 -5
New Hope Gideon Sa'ar 4.74 6 New
Meretz Nitzan Horowitz 4.59 6 +3
Ra'am Mansour Abbas 3.79 4 0
Prime Minister before Prime Minister after
Benjamin Netanyahu
Naftali Bennett

Background Edit

According to the coalition agreement signed between Likud and Blue and White in 2020, elections were to be held 36 months after the swearing-in of the 35th government, making 23 May 2023 the last possible election date. However, Israeli law stipulates that if the 2020 state budget was not passed by 23 December 2020, the Knesset would be dissolved, and elections would be held by 23 March 2021.[2]

On 2 December 2020, the Knesset passed the preliminary reading of a bill to dissolve the current government by a vote of 61–54.[3] On 21 December 2020, the Knesset failed to pass a bill to avoid dispersal by a vote of 47–49.[4] Since the Knesset had failed to approve the 2020 state budget by the required deadline, at midnight IST on 23 December 2020, the government coalition collapsed, and the 23rd Knesset was officially dissolved. In accordance with the law that the election must be held within 90 days after the dissolution of the Knesset, the date for elections to the 24th Knesset was automatically set for 23 March 2021.[5] Netanyahu was reported as facing a strong challenge from opposition parties.[6]

Electoral system Edit

The 120 seats in the Knesset were elected by closed list proportional representation in a single nationwide constituency. The electoral threshold for this election was 3.25%.[7]

Surplus-vote agreements Edit

Two parties could sign a surplus vote agreement that allowed them to compete for leftover seats as if they were running together on the same list. The Bader–Ofer method slightly favours larger lists, meaning that alliances are more likely to receive leftover seats than parties would be individually. If the alliance receives leftover seats, the Bader–Ofer calculation is applied privately, to determine how the seats are divided among the two allied lists.[8]

The following parties signed surplus vote-sharing agreements for the 2021 election:

Leadership elections and primaries Edit

Leadership elections were held by some parties to determine party leadership ahead of the election. Primary elections were held by some parties in advance of the national election to determine the composition of their party list.

Balad Edit

Knesset MK Sami Abu Shehadeh announced on 14 January 2021 that he would run for the leadership of Balad.[15] MK and former leader Mtanes Shehadeh sought re-election. The party held primaries on 23 January 2021 for its leader and its list for Knesset. The Balad council, which consists of a total of 600 members, were eligible to vote in Nazareth.[16] Abu Shehadeh was elected party leader by the Central Committee, with a total of 230 votes.[17]

Green Party Edit

Stav Shaffir was re-elected as the head of Green Party on 29 January 2021.[18]

Jewish Home Edit

On 5 January, incumbent Jewish Home party leader Rafi Peretz stated that he would not head the party and would not stand for re-election, but did not rule out a return to politics in the future.[19] Nir Orbach announced he would run for the leadership slot.[20] Hagit Moshe also ran (at Netanyahu's request).[21] The party's Central Committee selected its chair and party list, rather than holding a vote amongst party members.[22] Moshe was elected party leader by the Central Committee on 19 January 2021.[23] Party primaries were held on 26 January.[24]

Labor Edit

The Tel Aviv District Court ruled on 3 January 2021 that primaries for Labor's Knesset list and leadership must take place, despite the fact that Amir Peretz and his supporters voted in favor of canceling them. MK Merav Michaeli announced she would run for party leadership shortly after.[25] Gil Beilin announced he would run on 11 January.[26] The Israeli High Court rejected an appeal by the Labor party, ensuring that all party members (instead of just committee members) will be able to vote in the primary.[27] Former Labor leader Ehud Barak announced on 18 January that he would not run,[28] while Itzik Shmuli announced the next day that he would not run. Avi Shaked and David Landsman,[29] Ethiopian immigrant Yitzhak Time,[30] and Na'ava Katz also ran.[31]

The vote for party leader was won by Michaeli on 24 January.[32]

The deadline for entering the Knesset primary was extended to 30 January; 59 candidates entered the race.[18] The primary election for choosing the Knesset slate took place 1 February.[33]

Likud Edit

The Likud was ordered by its internal court to have its Constitutional Committee meet by 30 December to begin preparations for the selection of candidates for its electoral slate, following a petition filed by members of the party's Central Committee.[34] The party's Constitution Committee voted on 30 December to cancel party primaries,[35] which was made official on 2 January 2021.[36]

Meretz Edit

Meretz would have held a leadership election on 13 January 2021, while a primary for the rest of its electoral list would have been held on 21 January.[37] However, the party decided on 3 January 2021 to not hold primaries as no one challenged Nitzan Horowitz, the party leader.[38]

Parties Edit

Parliamentary factions Edit

At the end of the 23rd Knesset, there were thirteen factions in parliament. The parties of these parliamentary factions are all fielding lists to compete in the 2021 elections, or are members of such lists, with the exception of The Jewish Home.

Name Ideology Symbol Primary demographic Leader 2020 result At the time
of dissolution
Votes (%) Seats
Likud National liberalism מחל Benjamin Netanyahu 29.46%
36 / 120
36 / 120
Yesh Atid–Telem Social liberalism פה Yair Lapid, Moshe Ya'alon 26.59%
18 / 120
16 / 120
Blue and White Liberalism Benny Gantz
15 / 120
15 / 120
Derekh Eretz National liberalism Yoaz Hendel, Zvi Hauser
2 / 120
Joint List Minority interests ודעם Israeli Arabs Ayman Odeh 12.67%
15 / 120
15 / 120
Shas Religious conservatism שס Sephardi and
Mizrahi Haredim
Aryeh Deri 7.69%
9 / 120
9 / 120
United Torah Judaism Religious conservatism ג Ashkenazi Haredim Yaakov Litzman 5.98%
7 / 120
7 / 120
Labor Labor Zionism אמת Amir Peretz 5.83%
3 / 120
3 / 120
Meretz Social democracy Nitzan Horowitz
3 / 120
3 / 120
Gesher Social liberalism Orly Levy
1 / 120
1 / 120
Yisrael Beiteinu Nationalism ל Russian-speakers Avigdor Lieberman 5.74%
7 / 120
7 / 120
Yamina National conservatism טב Naftali Bennett 5.24%
5 / 120
5 / 120
Jewish Home Religious Zionism Israeli settlers,
Modern Orthodox and Hardal Jews
Rafi Peretz
1 / 120
1 / 120

Contesting parties Edit

Some of the ballot papers in the election.

A total of 39 parties registered to contest the elections.[39]

Party or alliance Head of list Hebrew
ballot letter
ballot letter
Am Shalem Haim Amsalem רף ر ف
Blue and White Benny Gantz כן ك ن
Bible Bloc Dennis Lipkin יק ي ق
Common Alliance Bishara Shlian ינ ي ن
Da'am Workers Party Yoav Gal Tamir ץ ص
Democratic Party (withdrawn)[40] Haim Cohen רק ر ض
The Israelis Yaron Regev ז ز
Hetz Lior Shapira צף ص ف
Hope for Change Abd el-Karim Abucaf רנ ر ن
Human Dignity Arkadi Pogech יף ي ف
Israeli Labor Party Merav Michaeli אמת أ م ت
Jewish Heart Eli Yosef כ ك
Likud Benjamin Netanyahu מחל م ح ل
Joint List Ayman Odeh ודעם و ض ع م
Kama Dorit Liat Biran נ ن
Ma'an (withdrawn)[40] Mohammed Darawshe צכ ص ك
Me and You Alon Giladi כך ك خ
Meretz Nitzan Horowitz מרצ م ر ص
Mishpat Tzedek Larissa Amir קץ ق ص
New Economic Party Yaron Zelekha יז ي ز
New Hope Gideon Sa'ar ת ت
New Order Avital Ofek קך ق خ
New World Yoram Edri ני ن ي
Atzmeinu (withdrawn)[41] Dotan Sofer צי ص ي
The Impossible – Possible Noam Aryeh Coleman ק ق
Pirate Party Ohad Shem Tov ףז ف ز
Rapeh only Health Aryeh Avni ר ر
Religious Zionist Party Bezalel Smotrich ט ط
Shas Aryeh Deri שס ش س
Shama Naftali Baruch Goldman קי ق ي
Social Bang – Pensioners Tzion Yahav י ي
Social Leadership Ilan Yar-Zanber יר ي ر
Tzomet Moshe Green זץ ز ص
United Arab List Mansour Abbas עם ع م
United Torah Judaism Moshe Gafni ג ج
Us Mosh Huga נר ن ر
Yamina Naftali Bennett ב ب
Yesh Atid Yair Lapid פה ف ه
Yisrael Beiteinu Avigdor Lieberman ל ل

Public expression of interest Edit

The following parties, which did not have representation in the Knesset prior to the election, expressed interest in participating in the 2021 election, but ultimately chose not to contest it:

Not running Edit

  • The Israelis, a party founded by Tel Aviv mayor Ron Huldai, dropped out of the race on 4 February 2021.[44]
  • The Israeli Veterans Party dropped out of the race on 3 February 2021[45] and has endorsed Yesh Atid.[46]
  • The Jewish Home dropped out of the race on 4 February 2021 and has endorsed Yamina.[47]
  • Telem dropped out of the race on 1 February 2021.[48]
  • Tnufa, a party founded by former Yesh Atid MK Ofer Shelah, dropped out of the race on 4 February 2021.[49]
  • Zehut announced on 24 December 2020 that the party would not run in the election.[50]

Opinion polls Edit

This graph shows the polling trends from the 2 March 2020 Israeli legislative election until the next election day using a 4-poll moving average. Scenario polls are not included here.

For parties not crossing the electoral threshold (currently 3.25%) in any given poll, the number of seats is calculated as a percentage of the 120 total seats. Labor-Meretz-Gesher and Labor-Meretz are shown as Labor before the splits; Yesh Atid-Telem is shown as Yesh Atid before the split. Derekh Eretz is shown separately until December 2020, when it merged into New Hope. Religious Zionist includes Otzma Yehudit and Noam.

Newspaper endorsements Edit

The daily Haaretz endorsed four parties in the 2021 election: Meretz, the Joint List, Labor, and Yesh Atid.[51]

Results Edit

24th Knesset election result map of winning coalition,[a] by regional election committee:
  Unity coalition—70–80%
  Unity coalition—60–70%
  Unity coalition—50–60%
  Unity coalition—40–50%
  Netanyahu coalition—40–50%
  Netanyahu coalition—50–60%
  Netanyahu coalition—60–70%
The Central Elections Committee chairman Uzi Vogelman (left) presents the election results to President Reuven Rivlin (right). Beit HaNassi, 31 March 2021.
Yesh Atid614,11213.9317+4
Blue and White292,2576.638–7
Israeli Labor Party268,7676.097+4
United Torah Judaism248,3915.6370
Yisrael Beiteinu248,3705.6370
Religious Zionist Party225,6415.126+4
Joint List212,5834.826–5
New Hope209,1614.746New
United Arab List167,0643.7940
New Economic Party34,8830.790New
Rapeh only Health17,3460.390New
Pirate Party1,3090.0300
Me and You1,2910.0300
Hope for Change1,1890.030New
Social Bang – Pensioners8110.020New
Mishpat Tzedek7290.0200
Am Shalem5920.010New
New Order5140.0100
The Impossible – Possible4630.010New
Jewish Heart4430.0100
Bible Bloc4290.0100
New World4290.010New
Common Alliance4080.0100
The Israelis3950.010New
Da'am Workers Party3850.0100
Social Leadership2560.0100
Ma'an – Together for a New Era2530.010New
Human Dignity1960.0000
Valid votes4,410,05299.41
Invalid/blank votes26,3130.59
Total votes4,436,365100.00
Registered voters/turnout6,578,08467.44
Source: CEC

Members of the Knesset who lost their seats Edit

Party Name Year elected Source
Blue and White Ruth Wasserman Lande 2021 [52]
Joint List Heba Yazbak 2019 [53]
Yousef Jabareen 2015 [53]
Sondos Saleh 2020 [54]
Jabar Asakla 2019 [54]
Likud Tali Ploskov 2020 [52]
Uzi Dayan 2020 [52]
Ariel Kallner 2020 [52]
Osnat Mark 2020 [52]
Amit Halevi 2020 [52]
Nissim Vaturi 2020 [52]
Shevah Stern 2020 [52]
Ayoob Kara 2020 [52]
Matti Yogev 2020 [52]
New Hope Zvi Hauser 2019 [53]
Shas Yosef Taieb 2020
United Arab List Iman Khatib-Yasin 2020
United Torah Judaism Ya'akov Tessler 2019
Eliyahu Baruchi 2020
Yesh Atid Moshe Tur-Paz 2020

Government formation Edit

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin met with the heads of all political parties on 5 April,[55] and charged Benjamin Netanyahu with forming the government the next day.[56] Netanyahu had been given until the end of 4 May to form a government.[57] Netanyahu failed to form a new government by the deadline.[58] The next day, Rivlin entrusted Yair Lapid with the second mandate.[59] On 9 May 2021, it was reported that Lapid and Naftali Bennett had made major headway in the coalition talks.[60][61] On 10 May, it was reported that plans were made to form a new government consisting of the current opposition, but that the Islamist Ra'am Party, which froze talks with both Lapid and Bennett in the wake of recent warfare in Gaza, still needed to pledge support for the Change bloc for the opposition MKs to secure a majority.[62][63] In late May, Lapid secured the support from Blue and White, Labor Party, Yisrael Beiteinu, New Hope, and Meretz, with Yamina and Ra'am possibly giving support.[64] On 30 May 2021, Bennett announced in a televised address that Yamina would join a unity government with Lapid, after all but one Yamina MK agreed to back this decision.[65]

On 2 June 2021, following negotiations with Lapid and Bennett, Ra'am leader Mansour Abbas officially signed a coalition agreement with Lapid, and agreed to allow his party to join a non-Netanyahu government.[66][67] Just an hour before his 2 June mandate was set to expire, Lapid informed outgoing president Reuven Rivlin that he could form a new government.[68][69][70] On 11 June 2021, Bennett's Yamina party became the last opposition faction to sign a coalition agreement with Lapid's Yesh Atid party, thus allowing the thirty-sixth government of Israel to be sworn in on 13 June.[71] Bennett became prime minister with Lapid as alternate prime minister, intended to take over as head of government in 2023.

See also Edit

Notes Edit

  1. ^ Unity coalition comprises Yesh Atid, Blue and White, Yamina, Israeli Labor Party, Yisrael Beiteinu, New Hope, Meretz, and United Arab List; the Netanyahu coalition comprises Likud, Shas, United Torah Judaism, and Religious Zionist Party

References Edit

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  3. ^ "Israel elections loom as lawmakers back bill to dissolve parliament". BBC News. 2 December 2020. Retrieved 2 December 2020.
  4. ^ Hoffman, Gil (22 December 2020). "Election prevention bill fails, Israel headed to elections on March 23". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 21 December 2020.
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  6. ^ "Israel's Netanyahu faces uphill battle as voters return to polls". BBC News. 23 March 2021. Retrieved 23 March 2021.
  7. ^ Harkov, Lahav (16 March 2014). "With Bader-Ofer method, not every ballot counts". The Jerusalem Post.
  8. ^ The Distribution of Knesset Seats Among the Lists—the Bader-Offer Method Knesset
  9. ^ Hoffman, Gil (4 January 2021). "Four parties conspire against Netanyahu with vote deals". The Jerusalem Post.
  10. ^ Azulay, Moran (4 January 2021). "Yesh Atid and Yisrael Beytenu sign surplus-vote sharing agreement". Ynetnews. Retrieved 4 January 2021.
  11. ^ Azulay, Moran (7 February 2021). "Blue & White, New Economic Party sign surplus agreement". Ynetnews. Retrieved 7 February 2021.
  12. ^ "Religious Zionist Party signs vote surplus deal with Likud". Israel National News. 10 February 2021.
  13. ^ Harkov, Lahav; Hoffman, Gil (2 February 2021). "Netanyahu: Kahanist won't be in my government". The Jerusalem Post.
  14. ^ Nachshoni, Kobi (8 March 2021). "Torah Judaism, Shas sign surplus agreement". Ynetnews. Retrieved 8 March 2021.
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External links Edit