Israel 2019 result

[Updated with final results]

The election results are final, after a couple of days of doubt about just who had cleared, or not cleared, the 3.25% threshold, and a few more days of final scrutiny (which cut Likud’s total by one seat and boosted the UTJ). The New Right, the party formed by Naftali Bennet and Ayelet Shaked when they bolted from Jewish Home (Bayit Yehudi), came up just short of winning any seats. With 3.22% of the vote, the party now joins the list of contenders for nearest miss of all time in any country with a nationwide threshold.

Meanwhile, one of the two Arab lists in this election, Ra’am-Balad, which many polls showed falling below the threshold, just made it, with 3.34%. Moshe Feiglin’s Zehut (build the Third Temple now and smoke dope!), which was the sensation of the latter part of the campaign with most polls showing it well above the threshold, came in at only 2.73%. I don’t usually ascribe great impact to specific campaign stunts, but his appearance on a comic show just before the election was one of the most bizarre things I have ever seen a politician do. Could it have cost him votes of wavering voters who had mistakenly thought he was a serious politician?

The contest between Likud and the opposition alliance, Blue & White, would have been exciting if only there had actually been more at stake. Two of the three exit polls showed B&W ahead, but there was not much doubt that Likud would be in a better position to form a coalition than B&W, even before the two parties pulled even. Then, in the final results, Likud pulled ahead.

The votes for the top two were 26.45% for Likud and 26.12% for B&W. In seats, Likud has the edge, 36-35.

Taking all the parties in the government at the time the election was called, we have results for the new Knesset (which has 120 seats total) as follows:

Party/alliance 2019 2015
Likud 35 30
Shas 8 7
UTJ 8 6
URWP 5 8
Kulanu 4 10
total 60 61

The table compares the results with 2015; the number for URWP (Union of Right Wing Parties) for 2015 refers to Jewish Home (Bayit Yehudi), which, minus New Right, is the main component in the new Union.

At first glance, this looks like potentially bad news for current PM and Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu. However, if he comes to agreement with Yisrael Beitenu (Israel Our Home), the total rises to 65. YB won 6 seats in 2015 and will have 5 in the new Knesset.

Bargaining with YB leader Avigdor Liberman is never easy. He joined the government some time after it was formed following the 2015 election. (One of those elected in 2015, Orly Levy, defected when the party joined the government.) He also left the government about a year before the term was up, in November, resigning as Defense Minister and bashing Netanyahu for being too soft on Hamas. That move left the coalition with just a bare majority of 61 seats and was one of the things that precipitated the election being held early. Shortly after the polls closed, Liberman stated that he would not recommend anyone for prime minister when the various faction heads meet with the president, who then is obliged to assess who has the best chance of forming a government.

Even if Liberman were to remain in opposition–and he may simply be playing hard to get–it would not necessarily prevent Netanyahu from forming a government. There is no requirement for 61 affirmative votes. And there is no way that Liberman is going to vote with the left and Arab parties for an alternative. However, with or without Yisrael Beitenu, it may be another relatively unstable government.

The other possibility, of course, is a coalition of the top two parties–a so-called “unity” (or dare I say “grand coalition“?) government. An “unsourced report” says this is under consideration. I say we consider this spin until proven otherwise. On the other hand, we should also take with a grain of salt the statement by Yair Lapid (no. 2 in Blue & White) that he is “personally opposed to sitting in a government with Netanyahu.” At this point, most of what is said, either by leaders in public or by various unnamed sources, is just part of the bargaining process.

A Likud-BW coalition would be quite a letdown to voters who voted for B&W because Gantz told them over and over again how the most important thing was to kick out Netanyahu. Still, I do not think we should assume it is completely ruled out till we see how the bargaining among the right-wing parties unfolds.

As far as specific candidates elected, there are some interesting developments. Israeli lists are, of course, closed. So when a party or alliance list performs at the outer limits of what is expected, some candidates may be elected whose personal attributes or social-group ties were part of the reason for their being given a marginal rank in the first place. Both Likud and Blue & White outperformed the pre-election polls. With 35 seats, B&W elects a candidate who was the country’s first openly gay mayor (Eitan Ginzburg, of Ra’anana), who was #32 on the list. In fact, the number of LGBT members hits a record high, with five, who also include Idan Roll and Yorai Lahav Hertzano, #34 and 35 on the B&W list. In addition, B&W elects Gadi Yevarkan (#33), an Ethiopian immigrant.

Likud’s over-performance elects two additional women from a party list that had only two in its top ten and just a few more in the top 30: May Golan (#32 and an anti-immigrant activist) and Osnat Mark (#35, already in the Knesset since last year). (One of the most interesting will be Keren Barak, who had a safe slot at #24. Click the link to see what I mean.)

With only four seats, Meretz failed to elect its first-ever Druze candidate, Ali Salalha, who was ranked #5. I have not checked city-level results to see if Meretz dominated the vote in his home town of Beit Jann, as was expected due to his candidacy. But it was not enough for an extra seat. Meretz’s vote share was 3.63%; the next largest list was able to win five seats, with 3.70%. So Salalha may not have missed by much. (Meretz also had an Ethiopian immigrant, Mehereta Baruch Ron, a deputy mayor of Tel Aviv, at #6.)

The party formed by Orly Levy Abekassis (the YB defector mentioned above), Gesher, was a big flop. It won only 1.73%. Her social policy emphasis had looked like it could win 5 or as many as 8 seats according to polls through much of last year, but it faded rapidly once the campaign really got underway. She should have struck a deal with B&W. It might have netted them a couple more seats, although even then, a B&W-led government would have remained out of reach, most likely.

I’ll be back with more later about the aggregate outcome.

13 thoughts on “Israel 2019 result

  1. I should caution that the Central Elections Committee has made it quite clear that the results published on its election results website – which were updated again today – are not the official results, which will be published next April 17, as noted on said website and here [PDF in Hebrew; also includes seat totals]. Incidentally, today’s 14:14 update reported a further three special (מעטפות חיצוניות in Hebrew) polling stations in addition to the results published in yesterday’s 23:49 update, which remained unchanged.

    In fact, the last Knesset seat, currently assigned to Likud + United Right (and to Likud within the surplus agreement) could still change hands. On the basis of today’s latest figures, Likud + United Right 41st quotient stands at 31,669.56 to 31,654.81 for Shas + United Torah Judaism’s 16th quotient AND 31,620.27 for Labor + Meretz 11th quotient. As things stand now, Shas + UTJ would need 236 extra votes to capture the last seat, while Labor + Meretz would need 543 votes. Interestingly enough, should the distribution of seats remain unchanged, the surplus agreements would prove to be redundant in 2019: in that case, all parties would have obtained the exact same number of seats had they run without the agreements in place.

    Finally, the CEC has 2019 general election results for all special polling stations on its website, available here.


    • So, Shas could still end up with 9 seats? That would be quite a shocker. Of course, given it would be at the expense of Likud, it would not change the overall right-Haredi bloc’s total. (Seems pretty unlikely Labor is going to get another seat at expense of the right.)


      • MSS, I believe the next seat for the Shas-UTJ block would be an 8th seat for Yahadut HaTorah rather than a 9th for Shas.


        • That is not only correct, but it appears to have taken place as a result of today’s 11:09 CEC update. Since yesterday seven outstanding regular polling stations have been tallied, and results in 202 reported stations have been corrected. One of today’s corrections was large enough – 518 votes switching from Labor to UTJ – to flip the final seat once more from Likud + United Right (31,700.83) to Shas + UTJ (31,705.75), and from Likud to UTJ within the surplus agreements. On the flip side, Labor + Meretz (31,577.18) are now further away, and would need 1,415 votes to gain the last Knesset seat.


      • So the seat goes to the party within the cartel that has the bigger remainder, not necessarily to the bigger party (in initial votes). Is that correct?

        (An important detail that I often forget.)


        • Actually, the largest average, as Bader-Ofer is D’Hondt by a different route to the same destination (however, even if it were the largest remainder the seat would go to UTJ). The Distribution of Knesset Seats Among the Lists – the Bader-Offer Method on the Knesset website has this under 4) Distribution of seats:

          a. Determining the general indicator for each Knesset seat by dividing the number of the valid votes given to the qualifying lists by 120.

          b. Establishing the number of seats given to each qualifying list by dividing the number of its votes with the general indicator. The result of this division (in whole numbers) determines the number of seats for each list. However, the total number of seats usually amounts to a number less than 120. The seats left for distribution is distributed first among pairs of lists that signed surplus vote agreements prior to elections. After determining which list-pairs receive additional seats, then which lists within the pairs will receive each additional seat will be calculated.

          c. Distribution of surplus votes is resolved by dividing the total number of valid votes given to both lists within the pairs that made such an agreement, by the number of seats given to both lists (basically the pair is viewed as one list for this purpose), plus 1. The reason for adding 1 is for determining what the indicator would be if the pair would receive that additional seat. The pair of lists with the highest indicator receives the surplus seat. The indicator for additional seats will be calculated based on the new distribution (i.e. plus 2 for the list that already received a seat, and so on). These calculations are continued in this way until all surplus seats are distributed.


          d. The same calculation is then applied to each list within each pair. The list that ends up with the higher list indicator is that list within the pair that will receive the surplus seat.

          Note the linked page refers to a 2% qualifying threshold, so it’s out of date on that account at the very least.


      • Manuel, yes, I worked through all of that in a lecture in my Israel Politics course, using these steps, not that many weeks ago. And yet somehow I can’t remember it at that level of detail when it comes up following an actual new election. (Don’t worry, I did not ask my students to do it on an exam!)


  2. Pingback: Finally, Israel has a totally normal election | Fruits and Votes

  3. Meretz did indeed do spectacularly well in Beit Jann, with 65% of the vote. Haaretz has a fantastic article analyzing who voted for whom all across the country.

    In general, it appears Druze voters were very offended by the Nation State law.

    Meretz also did disproportionately well win Arab communities–8% or larger in the larger towns like Nazareth and up to 39% in Kafr Qasem.

    Without Arab and Druze voters, Meretz would not have crossed the threshold. Their decision to place an Arab at #4 and a Druze at #5 would appear to be effective (and might say something about how candidate placement in closed lists can affect votes). It’s a shame that they didn’t poll well enough to get their Druze representative into the Knesset.

    At this point I would not be surprised to see a social movement takeover of Labor (led by Stav Shafir and/or Itzik Shmuli) and possibly a push to merge Labor and Meretz to form a single left party.


    • “In general, it appears Druze voters were very offended by the Nation State law.”

      Looking at the results in Druze towns:

      Daliyat El Karmel (local politician on Blue and White list):
      Likud 2015: 7.79%
      Likud 2019: 2.65%

      Yarka (local politician on Likud list):
      Likud 2015: 4.33%
      Likud 2019: 35.07%

      Beit Jann (local politician on Meretz list):
      Likud 2015: 5%
      Likud 2019: 3.25%

      Kisra Sumei:
      Likud 2015: 11.27%
      Likud 2019: 25.43%

      Yanuh Jat:
      Likud 2015: 12%
      Likud 2019: 11.42%

      The results are all over the place and show a strong preference for local candidates, but I don’t see any evidence of Likud being harmed by the nation state law.


    • Interesting what Christopher said in this thread regarding the “2019a” election, about a possible social-movement takeover of Labor led by Shaffir and/or Shmuli and a merger with Meretz. Of course, something a little different happened, but this was on the right track, with Shaffir defecting and joining Meretz in the new alliance, Democratic Union.

      It is unfortunate, however, that they bumped Salalha, the Druze candidate, down to #20 for the “2019b” list. There is no prospect of the list winning even half that number (though it will win more than the 5 that was his rank last time, unless there’s some huge surprise).


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