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April 2019 Israeli legislative election

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April 2019 Israeli legislative election
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All 120 seats in the Knesset
61 seats needed for a majority
Turnout68.46% (Decrease3.88pp)
Party Leader % Seats +/–
Likud Benjamin Netanyahu 26.46 35 +5
Blue and White Benny Gantz 26.13 35 +24
Shas Aryeh Deri 5.99 8 +1
UTJ Yaakov Litzman 5.78 8 +2
HadashTa'al Ayman Odeh 4.49 6 0
Labor Avi Gabbay 4.43 6 −13
Yisrael Beiteinu Avigdor Lieberman 4.01 5 −1
URWP Rafi Peretz 3.70 5 −3
Meretz Tamar Zandberg 3.63 4 −1
Kulanu Moshe Kahlon 3.54 4 −6
Ra'amBalad Mansour Abbas 3.33 4 −3
This lists parties that won seats. See the complete results below.
Prime Minister before Prime Minister after
Benjamin Netanyahu
Benjamin Netanyahu (caretaker government)

Early legislative elections were held in Israel on 9 April 2019 to elect the 120 members of the 21st Knesset. Elections had been due in November 2019, but were brought forward following a dispute between members of the current government over a bill on national service for the ultra-Orthodox population, as well as impending corruption charges against incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Netanyahu's Likud tied with Blue and White alliance of Benny Gantz, both winning 35 seats. The balance of power was held by smaller parties, with a majority being right-wing and religious parties that had previously sat in coalition with Likud, which would have allowed Netanyahu to form the next government.

Due to continuation of the disagreements over the national service of the ultra-Orthodox, a snap election was called, and was held on 17 September 2019.


Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman had opposed a draft law (supported by the ultra-Orthodox parties) which would allow full-time Torah students exemptions from serving in the IDF.[1] Meretz and Yesh Atid submitted a proposal on 12 March 2018 seeking the dissolution of the Knesset.[2] Early elections were averted at that point in time.[3]

Lieberman would eventually leave the government over the cease-fire with Hamas in Gaza.[4][5] This leaves the governing coalition with 61 seats (out of 120 in total).[6] The Jewish Home announced on 16 November 2018 that it would leave the government, as Naftali Bennett (the head of the party) was not given Lieberman's former Defense Ministry post.[7] Reports were that Netanyahu would not be giving the post to Bennett and was to meet with other coalition leaders on 18 November to determine a date for early election.[8] However, after further discussion, Bennett decided to stay on as education minister, narrowly avoiding the collapse of the Netanyahu government again.[9] However, continued dysfunction over various issues, including military service for the ultra-Orthodox, caused parliament to dissolve and early elections to be called for 9 April 2019.[10] Had early elections not been called, the regularly-scheduled elections would have taken place seven months later, on 5 November 2019.

Electoral system[edit]

The 120 seats in the Knesset are elected by closed list proportional representation in a single nationwide constituency. The electoral threshold for the election is 3.25%. In most cases, this implies a minimum party size of four seats, but on some occasions, a party can end up with three.[11]

While election day was on 9 April 2019, polls opened in embassies around the world on 28 March.[12]

Surplus-vote agreements[edit]

Voting in the election day in a polling station in HaBiluyim Primary School in Ramat Gan.

Two party lists can sign an agreement that allows them to compete for leftover seats as though they are running together on the same list. The Bader–Ofer method disproportionately favors larger lists, meaning that such an alliance is more likely to receive leftover seats than both of its comprising lists would be individually. If the alliance receives leftover seats, the Bader–Ofer calculation is then applied privately, to determine how the seats are divided among the two allied lists.[13] The following agreements were signed by parties prior to the election:

Parliament factions[edit]

The table below lists the parliamentary factions represented in the 20th Knesset.

Name Ideology Symbol Primary demographic Leader 2015 result Seats at 2018
Votes (%) Seats
Likud National liberalism מחל - Benjamin Netanyahu 23.40%
30 / 120
30 / 120
Labor Social democracy אמת - Avi Gabbay 18.67%[a]
18 / 120
19 / 120
Hatnua Liberalism - Tzipi Livni
6 / 120
5 / 120
Joint List Big tent ודעם Israeli Arabs Ayman Odeh 10.54%[b]
11 / 120
12 / 120
Ta'al Arab nationalism Israeli Arabs Ahmad Tibi
2 / 120
1 / 120
Yesh Atid Liberalism פה - Yair Lapid 8.81%
11 / 120
11 / 120
Kulanu Economic egalitarianism כ - Moshe Kahlon 7.49%
10 / 120
10 / 120
Jewish Home Religious Zionism
Religious conservatism
טב Modern Orthodox and
Chardal Jews
Rafi Peretz 6.74%
8 / 120
5 / 120
Shas Religious conservatism שס Sephardic and
Mizrahi Haredim
Aryeh Deri 5.73%
7 / 120
7 / 120
United Torah Judaism Religious conservatism ג Ashkenazi Haredim Yaakov Litzman 5.03%
6 / 120
6 / 120
Yisrael Beiteinu Nationalism
ל Russian-speakers Avigdor Lieberman 5.11%
6 / 120
5 / 120
Meretz Social democracy
מרצ - Tamar Zandberg 3.93%
5 / 120
5 / 120
New Right National conservatism נ - Naftali Bennett,
Ayelet Shaked
3 / 120
Independent - - Orly Levy
1 / 120
  1. ^ Hatnua and the Labor Party ran as a joint list called the Zionist Union. Amir Peretz was elected as a member of Hatnua, but defected to Labor before the split.
  2. ^ Ta'al ran as part of the Joint List and split off before the 2019 elections. Due to rotation agreements, one seat Ta'al initially held in the Knesset rotated to other factions of the Joint List.

Public expression of interest[edit]


  • Tzipi Livni announced on 18 February 2019 that her Hatnua party would not contest the election.[36]
  • Left-wing activist Eldad Yaniv announced on 30 December 2018 that he would re-form his 2013 party named "Eretz Hadasha", which would have run in the upcoming election,[37] though Yaniv dropped out of the race following the revealing of the Gantz/Lapid joint list on 20 February 2019.[38]
  • The Green Leaf party announced on 20 February 2019 that it would not participate in the election.[39]
  • Haredi Women's College founder Adina Bar-Shalom had expressed interest in participating in the elections with her newly formed, but unregistered, party Ahi Yisraeli,[40][41] though the party announced its withdrawal on 26 February 2019.[42]
  • Yom-Tov Samia announced the withdrawal of B'Yahad on 4 March 2019.[43]
  • Eli Yishai announced the withdrawal of Yachad on 27 March 2019.[44]


Some parties, like Likud, Labor, the Jewish Home, Zehut, and Meretz, have systems in which the leadership and most candidates on their lists are elected in primary elections.

Blue and White[edit]

Benny Gantz's Israel Resilience Party and Moshe Ya'alon's Telem unveiled its party slate on 19 February 2019.[45] Yair Lapid's Yesh Atid party unveiled its party slate on 18 February 2019.[46] On 21 February 2019, the three parties agreed to run on a united list named Blue and White.[47]

Union of Right-Wing Parties[edit]

The Jewish Home held its leadership primaries on 27 April 2017; Naftali Bennett won with 80.3% of the vote, Yonatan Branski received 12.2%, and Yitzhak Zagha received 7.47%.[48] In the aftermath of the formation of the New Right, and Bennett's leaving, the Jewish Home cancelled its primaries.[49] Rafi Peretz was elected leader of the Jewish Home on 4 February.[50]

The Tkuma party held its leadership primaries on 14 January 2019; Bezalel Smotrich defeated Uri Ariel.[51]

On 14 February 2019, Jewish Home agreed to run on a joint list with the Tkuma party. Jewish Home leader Rafi Peretz headed the joint list, with Tkuma chair Bezalel Smotrich as the number two.[29] On 20 February 2019, they agreed to include Otzma Yehudit in their list, titled the Union of Right-Wing Parties.[30][52] The inclusion of Otzma Yehudit prompted strong criticism.[53][54][55]


The Labor Party held its leadership primaries on 10 July 2017; Avi Gabbay defeated Amir Peretz in the run-off, with Isaac Herzog being defeated during the first round of voting.[56] The party held primaries on 11 February 2019 to choose members for its slate.[57]


The Likud leadership primary election was originally scheduled for 23 February 2016 following Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's proposal,[58] and later cancelled by a party court on the basis that the Likud constitution did not require a vote when there was only one candidate.[59][60] Likud held the primary for the rest of its list on 5 February 2019, which resulted in several of Netanyahu's rivals winning senior spots.[61][62] Voting irregularities surfaced in the primary results. In some cases, specific candidates received more votes in some locales than the total number of ballots cast in those locales. The Likud party investigated the matter.[63] In the final results, Knesset speaker Yuli Edelstein came in first place, followed by Yisrael Katz, Gilad Erdan, Gideon Sa'ar, and Miri Regev.[64]

On 28 February 2019, the Attorney General, Avichai Mandelblit, announced his intent to indict Prime Minister Netanyahu on three charges which include bribery, fraud, and breach of trust. These include trading legislation for favorable press coverage.[65]


Meretz held its leadership primaries on 22 March 2018; Tamar Zandberg won with 71% of the vote, Avi Buskila received 29%.[66] Meretz held its primary on 14 February 2019.[67]

Yisrael Beiteinu[edit]

Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beiteinu released its party slate on 19 February 2019.[68]


The Zehut party held Israel's first open primaries on 29 January 2019, in which all Israeli voters (including those living abroad) were able to vote via a secure online website. About 12,000 people voted in these primaries, which determined the order of the candidates who won in the party's internal primaries in September 2017.[69][70]

Opinion polls[edit]

These graphs show the polling trends from the time Knesset candidate lists were finalized on 21 February, until Friday before election day (5 April).

If more than one poll was conducted on the same day, the graphs show the average of the polls for that date.



Note: Political blocs do not necessarily determine the exact make-up of post-election coalitions.


Allegations of misconduct[edit]

The HadashTa'al alliance filed a complaint requesting the removal of 1,200 concealed cameras in polling places in Arab communities.[75][76] A judge overseeing the election ordered the concealed equipment removed.[75] The company that set up the cameras, Kaizler Inbar, bragged about its role in social media posts.[77]

Fake IDs were used in Herzliya, and some voting slips for Blue & White, Meretz, Likud, Zehut, and Yisrael Beiteinu disappeared in Petah Tikva.

Shas was criticized for giving out candles at polling stations.[78][79]


Blue and White1,125,88126.1335+24
United Torah Judaism249,0495.788+2
Labor Party190,8704.436–13
Yisrael Beiteinu173,0044.015–1
Union of Right-Wing Parties159,4683.705–3
United Arab ListBalad143,6663.334–3
New Right138,5983.220New
Social Security4,6180.110New
The Arab List (MadaANP)4,1350.1000
Social Justice3,8430.090New
Shield of Israel3,3940.080New
Justice for All3,2810.080New
Zekhuyotenu BeKoleinu1,3160.030New
Veteran Civil1,1680.030New
Kol Yisrael Ahim1,1400.030New
Pirate Party8190.0200
Pashut Ahava7330.020New
Eretz Yisrael Shelanu7010.020New
We are all friends Na Nach6240.0100
Hope for Change5620.0100
Green Economy – One Nation5560.0100
Ahrayut LaMeyasdim4280.010New
Human Dignity4040.010New
Social Leadership3850.010New
Ani VeAta3680.010New
Bible Bloc3530.010New
Ihud Bnei HaBrit2650.010New
Brit Olam2160.0100
Valid votes4,309,27099.29
Invalid/blank votes30,9830.71
Total votes4,340,253100.00
Registered voters/turnout6,339,72968.46
Source: CEC

Members of the Knesset who lost their seats[edit]

Party Name Year elected
Blue and White Aliza Lavie 2013
Gesher Orly Levy 2009
Kulanu Tali Ploskov 2015
Meirav Ben-Ari 2015
Akram Hasson 2016
Fentahun Seyoum 2019
Labor Merav Michaeli 2013
Omer Bar-Lev 2013
Revital Swid 2015
Haim Jelin 2015
Michal Biran 2013
Eitan Cabel 1996[80]
Yael Cohen Paran 2015
Saleh Saad 2017
Leah Fadida 2017
Nachman Shai 2009
Moshe Mizrahi 2018
Likud Ayoob Kara 2015
Yehuda Glick 2016
Nurit Koren 2015
Anat Berko 2015
Yaron Mazuz 2015
Avraham Neguise 2015
Nava Boker 2015
Meretz Mossi Raz 2017
New Right Naftali Bennett 2013
Ayelet Shaked 2013
Shuli Mualem 2013
Tzomet Oren Hazan 2015
United Arab List Talab Abu Arar 2013
Said al-Harumi 2017
Yisrael Beiteinu Hamad Amar 2009


Leader of Blue and White faction Benny Gantz conceded, paving the way for incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to start talks with other parties to form a governing coalition.[81] On 15 and 16 April, leaders of all the parties who won seats in the Knesset met with President Reuven Rivlin to recommend a designated person to form a government. Netanyahu received recommendations from leaders representing 65 seats in the Knesset, whereas Gantz received recommendations from leaders representing only 45 seats in the Knesset. Leaders of the two Arab parties, representing 10 seats in the Knesset, declined to make any recommendation. Based on the recommendations he received, Rivlin designated Netanyahu to form the next governing coalition.[82] After a month of negotiations, Netanyahu's failure to form a government led to a 74 to 45 vote in the Knesset in favour of dispersing just after midnight on 29 May 2019. The new election was scheduled for 17 September 2019.[83]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Kulanu is a centre to centre-right party that has expressed openness to serve in either a Likud- or Blue & White-led government.[71]
  2. ^ Zehut is a right-wing libertarian party that has expressed openness to serve in either a Likud- or Blue & White-led government.[72]
  3. ^ Blue & White has expressed its intention not to form a coalition with Ra'am-Balad or Hadash-Ta'al.[73]
  4. ^ Gesher is a centre-left party that has expressed openness to serve in either a Likud- or Blue & White-led government.[74]


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External links[edit]