Israeli legislative election, 2015

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Elections for the 20th Knesset
17 March 2015

Party Chairman Votes  % Seats +/–
Note - The above list contains only the parties which passed the threshold.

See complete expanded list in the full table below.

Prime Minister before election

Benjamin Netanyahu

Subsequent Prime Minister


Early elections for the twentieth Knesset will be held in Israel on 17 March 2015.


During late November and early December 2014, there were serious disagreements between parties in the governing coalition, particularly over the budget and a "Jewish state" proposal.[1][2] On 2 December Likud announced it would support a dissolution bill, with a vote scheduled for 8 December. Hours later, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fired Tzipi Livni and Yair Lapid from their cabinet portfolios.[3] In the first reading of the dissolution bill on 3 December, it was approved by a vote of 84–0, with one abstention.[4] The second and third readings were held on 8 December, with the third reading passing with a vote of 93–0.[5]

During the meeting held with Speaker Yuli-Yoel Edelstein on setting the date of the election, Likud and the Jewish Home favoured 10 March, the Labor Party requested 17 March, Shas and United Torah Judaism preferred 24 March, whilst the Arab parties requested that the elections be delayed until May.[6] The date was ultimately set for 17 March.[5]

Incumbent Knesset[edit]

Party Seats
Yesh Atid 19
Likud 18
Labor Party 15
Yisrael Beiteinu 13
The Jewish Home 12
Shas 11
United Torah Judaism 7
Hatnuah 6
Meretz 6
Hadash 4
United Arab List 3
Balad 3
Kadima 2
Ta'al 1
Total 120



Likud leadership election
Netanyahu Danon
75% 19%
The Likud list[7]

Prime Minister Netanyahu called a primary for 25 December 2014, however, it was postponed until 6 January. After the election was called, the prime minister demanded a vote of the central committee to move it back up to 31 December. This was passed in a mini-referendum.[8] The candidates were Netanyahu[9] and former deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon.[10] Likud's internal court changed the date to 6 January 2015 after finding that the vote lacked a two-thirds majority.[11] A panel of Likud judges accepted Netanyahu's appeal and allowed the vote to occur on 31 December 2014.[12]

The controversy over the timing of the primaries led to an internal investigation resulting in a report by party comptroller Shay Galilee that claimed Netanyahu had misused party employees. Galilee subsequently invited Netanyahu to a pre-disqualification hearing, which resulted in Netanyahu being prevented from running in the primaries. The prime minister immediately appealed to the Likud internal court.[13] Menachem Ne’eman, the chairman of the Likud election committee, has claimed that Galilee acted outside his authority and that his decision is invalid. Netanyahu's attorney and his primary campaign have contested the disqualification.[14] Netanyahu was allowed to run.[15]

Primary results and aftermath[edit]

The primary results were widely seen as a victory for Netanyahu and the more moderate faction within Likud, as opposed to the far-right fringe.[16] Moshe Feiglin, who for a long time led his own far-rightist faction within Likud and once challenged Netanyahu for the chairmanship, suffered a major defeat in the primary, failing to win a realistic spot on the ticket. In response, he left Likud and announced plans to form a new party.[16][17] Feiglin said his new party, which may be called the Jewish State Party, will not run in the 2015 election but will run in the next election after that.[18]

Zionist Union (Labor and Hatnuah)[edit]

The Labor leadership election
Herzog Yachimovich
58.5% 41.5%
The Zionist Union list[19][20][21]
Main article: Zionist Union

The Labor Party and Hatnuah agreed on 10 December 2014 to form a joint ticket.[8] Hatnuah head Tzipi Livni has said that other parties will also be part of the alliance.[22] Herzog and Livni said that if they won enough votes to form the next government, they would take turns in the role of prime minister, with Herzog serving for the first two years and Livni for the second two, in a compromise known as rotation.[23] Labor held its primaries on 13 January 2015.[24]

Aluf (Major General, res.) Amos Yadlin is the party's candidate for Ministry of Defence, though he is not running in the election itself.[25]

The alliance was expanded further when Livni selected Yael Cohen Paran, a co-chairman of the Green Movement, (Major General, res.) Eyal Ben-Reuven and Yoel Hasson for Hatnuah's reserved slots on the Zionist Union list.[26][27]

The Jewish Home[edit]

The Jewish Home leadership election
Bennett Or
90% 10%
The Jewish Home list[28]

The Jewish Home held its primary elections on 14 January 2015.[29] It has agreed to a vote-sharing agreement with Likud.[5] Tkuma has candidates on the same list as the Jewish Home for the election. It held its primaries on 11 January 2015. Its Knesset members will be placed on the 2nd, 8th, 13th and 17th slots in the joint list.[30][31]

Rabbi Shimon Or competed against incumbent party leader Naftali Bennett in the 14 January leadership elections.[32]

Yesh Atid[edit]

The Yesh Atid list[33]

Hailed as the kingmakers in the 2013 elections, Yesh Atid and its leader Yair Lapid have seen their popularity cut in half since joining the government. Elected on a "promise to lower the cost of living and improve the middle class’s quality of life, Lapid implemented a string of unpopular austerity measures after being appointed finance minister that, he said, were necessary to counter a government deficit that ran into the tens of billions of shekels".[34] Such actions led to Lapid being named the "most disappointing politician of 2013" and giving him the lowest approval ratings of cabinet ministers.[35][36] Lapid responded to these criticisms in an interview with Channel 2, where he said:

Following the election call, several sitting Yesh Atid MKs announced their intention not to run in the upcoming elections, including Rina Frenkel, Adi Koll, and Shimon Solomon.[38] However, the party gained a member from another party, as Hatnuah MK Elazar Stern joined Yesh Atid following party leader Tzipi Livni's merger with Labor.

Yisrael Beiteinu[edit]

The Yisrael Beitenu list[39]

Yisrael Beiteinu, who ran in the 2013 elections on a joint party list with Likud, split from the party in July 2014, with analysts suggesting that it was due to policy disagreements between Prime Minister Netanyahu and Yisrael Beitenu leader Avigdor Liberman, specifically regarding the 2014 kidnapping and murder of Israeli teenagers and the ensuing conflict in Gaza.[40] The party's poll numbers stayed relatively steady after the split from Likud, but began to slide in early 2015. For the 2015 elections, the party signed a vote-sharing agreement with Kulanu.[5]


The Kulanu list[41]

The Kulanu party was established in November 2014 by former Likud MK Moshe Kahlon following months of speculation.[43][44]

Kahlon was able to attract some high-profile candidates for the Kulanu party list, including former Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren and Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem Rachel Azaria. However, one of these candidates, former Reshet Aleph director and IBA presenter Tsega Melaku was barred from running in the elections, due to the fact that she did not wait the requisite 100 days between quitting her public sector job and running in a general election.[45]

Joint Arab list[edit]

The Joint List list[46]

Following the raising of the electoral threshold, Balad, Hadash, the southern branch of the Islamic Movement, Ta'al and the United Arab List agreed on 22 January 2015 to run on the same list in the election,[48] the first time the major Arab parties had all run on a single list.[49] One poll suggested that the formation of alliance, later named the Joint List, could increase turnout amongst Arab voters to 56%, 10% higher than in the 2013 elections.[49] However, the more hardline northern branch of the Islamic Movement opted to boycott the elections, alongside the Bnei HaKfar (Sons of the Village) movement.[50]

The alliance's 2015 election campaign is focused on preventing Benjamin Netanyahu forming a government and helping the Labor Party-led Zionist Union do so instead.[49]

United Torah Judaism[edit]

The UTJ list[51]

United Torah Judaism, or Yehadut HaTorah, is an alliance between:


The Shas list[42]

One of the fiercest rivalries in this campaign has been competition among several different parties for the votes of Sephardic Haredi Jews. Historically, Shas, a Sephardic Haredi party founded by Sephardic Chief Rabbi Ovadia Yosef has been the key party among Haredi Sephardic and Mizrahi populations. In 1999, Shas leader Aryeh Deri was convicted of taking $155,000 in bribes while serving as Interior Minister and given a three-year jail sentence in 2000, he was replaced by Eli Yishai.[53][54] Yishai led the party for over ten years after Deri's imprisonment, leading the party through Knesset elections until 2013. Deri was released from prison for good behavior in 2002, and remained a popular figure within his constituency.

Between 2011 and 2014, several events occurred that created rifts in the party. In 2011, after years out of the political spotlight, Deri announced an interest in returning to politics. After Aryeh Deri announced his return to politics, and following a series of highly publicised events that led to an increase in the tensions between the Haredi public and the non-Haredi public, Shas's popularity began to falter according to most polls. As a result, Shas chairman Eli Yishai requested that Aryeh Deri join the party instead of establishing an independent party.[55] Shas spiritual leader Ovadia Yosef offered Aryeh Deri the 3rd position on the party list, but Deri rejected it at first and was believed to want to lead the party, start his own party (which according to polls might win as many as 7 seats), or not participate in the election at all.[56] On 16 October a compromise was reached: Shas would not a have a formal chairman, but would instead be jointly lead by Deri, Yishai and Housing and Construction Minister Ariel Atias.[57] In May 2013, some months after internal rift following Deri's political comeback, Yishai was ousted and Deri was once again renamed as the leader of the Shas party.[58] Ovadia Yosef, the Sephardi sage and Shas spiritual leader said regarding his decision to oust Yishai "It was a deposit that he held, and now he can redeem it." Yosef also said he had told Deri at the time of his imprisonment that the position of party leader would be returned to him.[59] 2013 also marked the death of Ovadia Yosef, the party's spiritual leader.

In 2014, Yishai created a new party, called Yachad. On 28 December 2014, a recording was released of Rabbi Yosef condemning Deri and supporting Yishai in 2008, years before Deri's return to politics.[60] In response to these recordings, Deri tendered his resignation to the party leadership, which they rejected.[61]

There were also protests and threats to boycott the election from Haredi women, upset with the fact that the Haredi parties do not allow women on the ballot. Women who protested this policy were threatened with repercussions by male Haredi activists.[62]

Yachad and Otzma Yehudit[edit]

The Yachad - Otzma joint list[63]

Former Shas MK Eli Yishai unveiled Yachad on 15 December 2014.[65]

The Otzma LeYisrael party, which failed to cross the electoral threshold in the 2013 elections, was rebranded as the Otzma Yehudit (Jewish Strength) party. The leaders of the party announced that they would consider running with breakaway groups from Shas and Jewish Home, but not with Jewish Home itself, because they view Naftali Bennett as insufficiently right-wing.[66]

The two parties came to an agreement on a joint electoral list.[63]


The Meretz list[67]

Meretz held its primaries on 19 January 2015 at a meeting of its 1,000-member central committee in the Tel Aviv Fairgrounds. Leader Zahava Gal-On was re-elected as head of the party, whilst MK Nitzan Horowitz chose not to stand.[67]

Other participating parties[edit]

The Ale Yarok (Green Leaf) party, which supports legalizing marijuana, said that anyone who donated to them would receive marijuana if and when the plant was legalized in Israel. As a result, the party raised over NIS 100,000 as of January 13. Green Leaf has never won parliamentary seats before; however, there are enough cannabis smokers in Israel that if even a quarter of them vote for Ale Yarok, the party will have a good chance of winning seats.[40]

In January, a political party led by Haredi women declared its intention to run in the upcoming elections, a first in the Israeli political system.[68] The party, which is called Ubizchutan ("And By [female] Their Merit"), includes Ruth Korian and Noah Erez on its list.[69] Party leader Ruth Korian asked for protection from the government after she said her 10-year-old daughter was pulled out of class and questioned about party activities.[70]

The "We Are All Friends Na Nach" party, representing Breslover Hasidim, is also running. Because the name of the party in Hebrew is "Kulanu Haverim Na Nach", they objected to the use of the first word by Moshe Kahlon's Kulanu party. Ultimately, however, both parties were allowed to use the name.[70]

The Greens party renamed itself this election as the "Greens Don't Give A Fuck" party.[71]

Former United Arab List MK Taleb a-Sanaa founded a party called “The Arab List" after not receiving a slot on the Arab parties' Joint List.[71]

Other parties running again after failing to cross the threshold in the previous election are the Pirate Party, Or, Protecting Our Children - Stop Feeding Them Porn, HaTikva LeShinui ("The Hope for Change"), and the Finance Party headed by the Goldstein brothers.[70][71][72]

Other parties running for the first time in this election are Democratura, Manhigut Hevratit ("Social Leadership"), Nivheret Ha'Am HaZmanit ("The Temporary National Team") headed by former Brit Olam founder Ofer Lifschitz, Schirut BeKavod ("Making a Living With Honor"), and Perach ("Flower").[72]

Non-participating parties[edit]


After polls showed that Kadima would be unable to win any seats in 2015 if it competed on its own, there were reports that the Zionist Union was considering adding it to its ticket by reserving the 11th spot for Kadima leader Shaul Mofaz.[73] However, Mofaz rejected these rumors, stating he had no intention of joining the alliance,[74] and announced that he was retiring from politics in January 2015. He was replaced as party leader by Akram Hasson, the first time a Druze Israeli had led a Jewish party.[75] His leadership of the party was short-lived, however, as Hasson shortly quit the party to join the Kulanu list,[76] receiving the 12th slot. Without either of its current MKs, Kadima is not running in this election at all.[72]

Electoral system[edit]

Further information: Elections in Israel

The 120 seats in the Knesset are elected by proportional representation in a single nationwide constituency. The electoral threshold for the 2013 elections was 2%, but on 11 March 2014 the Knesset voted to raise the threshold to 3.25%. The change may exclude many of the smaller parties, and could result in some mergers. The vote was boycotted by the opposition.[77] It is expected that the smallest parties in the Knesset under this new threshold will have 4 seats.[78]

Joint electoral lists[edit]

Further information: Electoral alliance

Continuing their longstanding alliance, Degel HaTorah and Agudat Israel will run a joint electoral list named United Torah Judaism.[52]

In December 2014, the Labor Party and Hatnuah agreed to form a joint electoral list named Zionist Union.[8]

The new Yachad party and Otzma Yehudit agreed on a joint electoral list.[63]

Following the raising of the electoral threshold, Balad, Hadash, the southern branch of the Islamic Movement, Ta'al and the United Arab List agreed in January 2015 to form a joint electoral list named Joint List.[48]

Surplus-vote agreements[edit]

Further information: Hagenbach-Bischoff system

Two parties can make an agreement so that the sum of both parties' surplus votes are combined, and if the combined surplus votes amounts to an extra seat, then the extra seat goes to the party with the larger number of surplus votes.[79] The following agreements were signed by parties prior to the election:

Opinion polls[edit]


  1. ^ Slot reserved for candidate from the Shfela region
  2. ^ Slot reserved for candidate from the Galilee region
  3. ^ Slot reserved for candidate from the greater Tel Aviv area
  4. ^ Slot reserved for candidate from the Jerusalem area
  5. ^ Slot reserved for candidate from the Negev region
  6. ^ Slot reserved for an immigrant


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External links[edit]