Netanyahu won an 8-seat majority over his opponents despite near parity in raw votes

Netanyahu won an 8-seat majority over his opponents despite near parity in raw votes

With the announcement of the final elections results On Thursday evening, the scale of the political parties’ self-inflicted defeat against Netanyahu was thrown into sharp relief, as the final tally showed just 30,293 votes separating the opposing political camps.

Although this gap represents less than one Knesset seat based on the total number of valid votes cast in the election, the new coalition will have a decisive majority of eight seats, with 64 of the 120 seats in the new Knesset.

According to the final results, the right-wing religious alliance of Likud, Religious Zionism, Shas and United Torah Judaism parties received a total of 2,303,964 votes.

Combined with the votes received by the Jewish Home, which failed to pass the electoral threshold of 3.25 percent, the total number of votes for all parties that opted for the political bloc of new Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rises to 2,360,757. (Jewish Home leader Ayelet Shaked, a former Yamina and interior minister in the outgoing coalition, promised during the campaign to ally with Netanyahu’s bloc if her new party entered the Knesset.)

The eight parties of what could be called the “anti-Netanyahu bloc” – comprising the outgoing coalition parties, along with the majority Arab Hadash-Ta’al and Balad – achieved near parity, with 2,330,464 votes.

This figure includes 288,789 votes cast for the leftist Meretz and the anti-Zionist Balad party, both of which failed to pass the electoral threshold.

Supporters of the Meretz party react to the announcement of the results of the Israeli election in Jerusalem on November 1, 2022 (Flash90)

Meretz received a total of 150,696 votes, representing 3.16% of the vote, and was only 4,124 votes short of what he needed to cross the electoral threshold and enter the Knesset.

Ballad received 138,093 votes, which represents about 2.9% of the total number of votes.

These 288,789 votes represent more than seven seats in the Knesset in the raw calculation of the number of votes that make up one mandate, based on the total number of valid votes. (However, this does not automatically translate into 7 more seats, given the complex calculations by which seats are allocated – which are affected by parties crossing the threshold and include “surplus vote” arrangements between parties crossing the threshold.)

Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu addresses supporters at the party’s campaign headquarters in Jerusalem early on November 2, 2022, with his wife Sarah by his side. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

Had Meretz run on a joint ticket with Labor, as outgoing Prime Minister Yair Lapid had sought and urged, and had Balad not decided to split from Hadash-Ta’al and run alone, it is likely that the distribution of seats in the new It would deny the Knesset the outright majority that Netanyahu’s bloc has now won. (It is likely, though not certain, since there are no guarantees that voters would have made the choices they did, or even voted at all, if Labor and Meretz had merged without Balad running alone.)

However, it would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, for the anti-Netanyahu parties to form their own coalition, since Hadash-Ta’al and, in particular, the Arab nationalist Balad would almost certainly not enter any government.

Members of the Balad party at the party’s headquarters in Shefaram, northern Israel, on November 1, 2022, as the results of Israel’s general election are announced. (Michael Giladi/Flash90)

Despite Lapid’s strong pressure on Meretz and Labor to unite on a single list ahead of the election to avoid one of the two left-wing parties falling below the threshold, Labor leader Merav Michaeli flatly refused.

headstone he reportedly offered both Labor and Meretz reserved seats on his party’s Yesh Atid electoral list and guaranteed ministerial posts for Labor as part of his effort to persuade the parties to unite, but Michaeli accused Lapid at the time of damaging the center-left bloc with these efforts.

Balad, who ran on a joint list with at least one other Arab party in the previous five elections, pulled out a similar arrangement just an hour before the deadline for submitting party electoral lists to the Central Election Commission on September 15.

By contrast, Netanyahu brokered a far-right merger between Bezalel Smotrich’s Religious Zionist Party, Itamar Ben Gvir’s Otzma Yehudit Party, and Maoz’s Noam Avi Party — all of which were under the banner of Religious Zionism — and won a combined 14 seats, making him the third-highest vote-getter after Likud and Yesh Atid. There was concern in Netanyahu’s bloc that Smotrich’s party might otherwise miss the threshold, and Noam was not expected to get more than a few tens of thousands of votes.

Religious Zionist Party head Bezalel Smotrich at the party’s campaign headquarters after election day, November 1, 2022. (Yossi Aloni/Flash90)

Netanyahu chose not to offer Shaked a direct inducement to drop out of the race, even though she has consistently polled below the threshold, but disputed reports this week claimed that Likud had concluded that Shaked’s Jewish home was not a threat to Netanyahu’s bloc as it drew some of its limited support from voters. who would otherwise vote against Netanyahu.

In the April 2019 election, a similar sequence of events on the right deprived Netanyahu’s camp of the votes needed to form a government.

In those elections, former Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s New Right Party and Moshe Feiglin’s Zehut Party failed to cross the electoral threshold, losing more than 256,000 votes in the process.

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