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Analysis

Israeli Elections: Everything you need to know

Israeli elections 9 April 2019. BICOM will be producing a regular poll of polls and analysis of the parties and politicians – all right here. 

Our Israeli election briefing examines the reasons for early elections; identifies key issues on which the election will be fought; analyses voting trends over the last decade; and highlights events that could shake up the election and the future formation of the governing coalition.

Read our break down of all the Parties, Politicians and Policies

Our Israeli Elections Bulletin can be found here

Latest Polling Data

The Next Israeli Government?*

*According to numbers based on aggregated polling, Jan 30 – Feb 4
Green = Arab parties; Red = left-wing parties; Orange = centrist parties; Blue = right-wing parties; Black = ultra-Orthodox parties

Our aggregate polling data suggests Likud will emerge as the largest party and based on the current numbers Netanyahu will be able to form a narrow government. With Likud maintaining its lead in the polls, Netanyahu has expressed his hope that the parties in his 2015 governing coalition will comprise the core of his future coalition. At the same time, some right wing parties failing to pass the electoral threshold of 3.25% (equivalent to 4 seats) and a decision by the Attorney General to indict the Prime Minister pending a hearing could put this at risk. Kulanu initially refused to join the coalition in such a scenario but have since backtracked. Polls suggest Likud is reliant on Kulanu to reach a 61 seat majority required to form a government.

Number of Seats Based on Aggregated Polls*

Projected Seats by Bloc Over Time 

The importance of blocs: whilst personality is increasingly more important than policy, parties are typically labelled as being part of one of five blocs – right-wing, left-wing, centre, ultra-Orthodox, and Arab – based on their positions on issues of national security and / or religion and state. At the same time, several parties avoid these labels and there is often a fluidity between the blocs themselves. For more in-depth analysis about the blocs, be sure to read our Israel Elections briefing.

Netanyahu’s Favourability vs Gantz

New entrant Benny Gantz is significant because of the strength of his polling numbers, which consistently show little difference in favourability between him and Netanyahu. The former IDF Chief of Staff is closer to the Prime Minister in head to head polling than any other candidate since Netanyahu took office in 2009. This reflects a strong anti-Netanyahu vote looking for a credible alternative to unite around. Gantz is assumed to be broadly centrist, and most of his support appears to come at the expense of Labor and Yesh Atid. Gantz’s security credentials could make him a more credible prime ministerial candidate than other Netanyahu rivals, and draw away some of Likud’s more centrist voters.

Brief History of IDF Chiefs of Staff in Politics

Listen to our latest podcast on the upcoming elections

All of our podcasts on the Israeli elections can be found here

Best Cartoons

January 15: From Haaretz’s Amos Biderman – As Benny Gantz breaks his silence and says the the Nation State Law should be amended to be more inclusive to the Druze, Netanyahu’s Likud party ‘open up the gates of hell’

January 10: An insightful  cartoon in Yediot Ahronot shows Naftali Bennett, Benny Gantz, Yair Lapid & Avi Gabbai battling it out for 2020 while Netanyahu languishes back in 2019. The article by Sima Kadmon argues that Israeli politicians are increasingly working towards two assumptions. First, that Netanyahu will win the elections and second, that he’ll be forced out soon afterwards.

January 7: From Yediot Ahronot – Netanyahu, Culture Minister Miri Regev & Coalition Chairman David Amsalem attack Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit. Mandelblit is likely to announce whether or not the PM will be indicted before April elections. Likud members are pressuring him not to do so, fearing it will harm Netanyahu’s election prospects

January 6: From Yediot Ahronot – Benny Gantz studying an empty white board on suggestions for election posters. Gantz says ‘excellent – I love it’. And aide replies ‘hold on – we haven’t printed the poster yet’.

December 28: From Haaretz – the Attorney General carries files for the Prime Minister’s investigations watched by Gidon Saar, a likely challenger to Netanyahu within Likud, and Netanyahu clings on for dear life. Finance Minister Kahlon gets injured by high electricity prices. Aymen Odeh and Ahmed Tibi of the Joint Arab List consider splitting. Yesh Atid leader Lapid is threatened by a potential merger between new parties led by former IDF Chiefs of Staff Gantz and Yaalon. Orly Levy who formed her own party Gesher – just as her dad did in the 1990s – is leaving her former party head, Avigdor Lieberman, behind. Jewish Home leaders stand on the roof of a settlement outpost. And Ehud Barak cooks a stew including Zionist Union leaders Gabbay & Livni.

December 27: From Yediot Ahronot – on the wall a plaque reads: “The Thinking Man – please do not disturb” and depicts former Chief of Staff Benny Gantz – whose entry into the race could shake up the Israeli elections – while current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Yair Lapid, Tzipi Livni & Avi Gabbay look on and say ‘Hurry up already!’

December 27: From Marriv – the the small fish – representing left & centre-left parties – argue over who should lead the anti-Bibi bloc. The bubble text reads: ‘if you all follow me we can beat him’. Meanwhile, a much larger Netanyahu shaped fish looks on.

Recent Campaign Videos

Yesh Atid 

Labor Party

  • A number of Labor MKs issue spoilers for Game of Thrones, Friends, Titanic and Harry Potter and then say ‘Spoiler Alert – Lapid and Gantz will join Netanyahu’s government’issue.
  • Stav Shaffir (Labor) casts herself into one of Netanyahu’s campaign videos to berate the Prime Minister over the state of the country and his policies.
  • Party leader Avi Gabby released a campaign video saying ‘those who are excited about travels to Chad should vote for Bibi, but those who want a Prime Minister who is involved in the lives of Israeli citizens should vote for change’.

Israel Resilience Party

Kulanu

  • Other politicians are portrayed as cartoons fighting with each other to the tune of Hava Nagila. The video says: “Everyone is fighting. Kahlon is the only one fighting for you”

Yisrael Beitenu

Likud

  • Avi Dichter, chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee, dresses up as a Palestinian and speaks to an actor playing PA President Mahmoud Abbas about how much one would get paid getting shot by an IDF officer, and Abbas shows Dichter a chart of how much the PA pays terrorists.

Key facts about the Israeli electorate and Knesset 

  • Size of the electorate: 5,881,696
  • Voter turnout rate: 71.8% (2015); 67.8% (2013); 64.7% (2013)
  • Women MKs: 35
  • Number of votes required to reach 3.25% electoral threshold: 138,259 (approximately)
  • Votes per Knesset seat: 35,456 (approximately)
  • Number of parties in the current Knesset: 10
  • Arab MKs: 17
  • Number of MKs under 40: 17 (Stav Shaffir of Labor is the youngest at 33)