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

With the publication of the final election results On Thursday night, the scale of the self-exacerbated defeat of the anti-Netanyahu political parties was thrown into stark relief, with the final vote tally showing 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 elections, the new coalition will have a decisive majority of eight seats, with 64 of the new Knesset’s 120 seats.

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

Combined with the votes received by Jewish Home, which did not cross the 3.25% electoral threshold, the total number of votes cast for all parties that committed themselves to incoming Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s political bloc stands at 2,360,757. (Jewish Home leader Ayelet Shaked, formerly of Yamina and interior minister of the outgoing coalition, promised during the campaign that she would ally with Netanyahu’s bloc if her new party managed to the Knesset.)

The eight parties in what could be called the ‘anti-Netanyahu bloc’ – comprising the parties of the incumbent coalition, as well as the Arab majorities Hadash-Ta’al and Balad – reached near parity, with 2,330 464 votes.

This figure includes 288,789 votes cast for the left-wing Meretz and anti-Zionist Balad parties, which did not cross the electoral threshold.

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

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

Balad garnered 138,093 votes, or about 2.9% of the total votes.

Those 288,789 votes are more than seven Knesset seats in a raw calculation of the number of votes that constitute a mandate, based on the total number of valid votes cast. (This does not automatically translate to 7 additional seats, however, given the complex calculations by which the seats are allocated – which are affected by parties crossing and falling below the threshold, and include “excess vote” agreements between the parties that cross the threshold.)

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

If Meretz had run on a joint list with Labor, as it sought to do and as requested by outgoing Prime Minister Yair Lapid, and if Balad had not chosen to break with Hadash-Ta’al and stand alone, it is likely that the distribution of seats in the new Knesset would have deprived the Netanyahu bloc of the absolute majority it has now won. (Probably, but not certain, as there is no guarantee that voters would have made the choices they did, or even voted at all, if Labor and Meretz had merged and Balad had not not presented alone.)

Yet it would have been extremely difficult, if not impossible, for the anti-Netanyahu parties to form their own coalition, since Hadash-Ta’al and, above all, the Arab nationalist Balad would almost certainly not have joined a government.

Members of the Balad party at the party 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 prevent either of the two left-wing parties from falling below the threshold, Labor leader Merav Michaeli resolutely opposed it.

tomb stone would have offered both Labor and Meretz reserved places on his Yesh Atid party’s electoral roll and guaranteed ministerial posts for Labor as part of his efforts to persuade the parties to unite, but Michaeli accused Lapid at the time of undermining the bloc. centre-left with these efforts.

Balad, who ran on a joint ticket with at least one other Arab party in the last five elections, got out of a similar arrangement just one hour before the deadline for submitting party voter lists to the Central Election Commission on September 15.

In contrast, Netanyahu brokered a far-right merger between Bezalel Smotrich’s Religious Zionism party, Itamar Ben Gvir’s Otzma Yehudit party and Avi Maoz’s Noam party – all of which ran under the banner of the Religious Zionism and won 14 seats combined, making it the third-biggest vote-giver after Likud and Yesh Atid. The Netanyahu bloc feared that Smotrich’s party had otherwise failed to cross the threshold, and Noam was expected to garner no more than a few tens of thousands of votes.

Religious Zionist party leader 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 was still questioned below the threshold, but disputed reports this week claimed that Likud had concluded that Shaked’s Jewish Home party was n Wasn’t a threat to the Netanyahu bloc because it was drawing some of its limited support from voters who would have otherwise voted against Netanyahu.

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

In that election, 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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