September 2019 Israeli legislative election

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September 2019 Israeli legislative election
← April 2019 17 September 2019

All 120 seats in the Knesset
61 seats needed for a majority
Party Leader Current seats
Likud Benjamin Netanyahu 38
Blue and White Benny Gantz 35
Joint List Ayman Odeh 10
Shas Aryeh Deri 8
UTJ Yaakov Litzman 8
Yamina Ayelet Shaked 6
Labor-Gesher Amir Peretz 6
Yisrael Beiteinu Avigdor Lieberman 5
Democratic Union Nitzan Horowitz 4
Incumbent Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu 2018.jpg Benjamin Netanyahu (interim)

Snap legislative elections are due to be held in Israel on 17 September 2019 to elect the 120 members of the 22nd Knesset. Following the prior elections in April, incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to form a governing coalition, the first such failure in Israeli history. On 30 May, the Knesset voted to dissolve itself and trigger new elections, in order to prevent Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz from being appointed Prime Minister-designate.[1] This election was the first time that the Knesset voted to dissolve itself before a government had been formed.[2]


Following the April 2019 elections, Likud leader and incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had until the end of 29 May to form a governing coalition, including a two-week extension granted by President Reuven Rivlin.[3] Should the deadline pass without a coalition being formed, Rivlin would be tasked with appointing a new Prime Minister-designate, presumed to be Blue and White party head Benny Gantz.[4]

Negotiations between Netanyahu and a number of potential coalition partners stalled.[5] One sticking point between Netanyahu and Yisrael Beitenu leader Avigdor Lieberman was the passage of the draft law, which is opposed by the Haredi parties in the coalition.[6] The law would remove the current exemption of yeshiva students from conscription.[7] Netanyahu needed both Yisrael Beitenu and the Haredi parties in his coalition in order to have enough seats to form a majority.[8]

As an alternative, Netanyahu approached Labor about the possibility of their support, but they rejected the offer. Meanwhile, Netanyahu's legal troubles overshadowed further possible coalition negotiations, with Blue and White refusing to work with him in the circumstances. The new elections also mean that Netanyahu's proposed immunity law cannot proceed for now.[9]

On 28 May, the Knesset passed on first reading a bill which would dissolve the Knesset and force a snap election. This move was intended to place additional pressure on coalition partners to reach an agreement in time, as well as to prevent Gantz from being given the opportunity to put together a coalition should the deadline pass.[10][4] Later that day, the committee approved the bill for second and third reading.[11]

Late in the evening on 29 May, it was announced that talks had failed. That night, and into the morning of 30 May, the Knesset passed second and third readings of the bill to dissolve itself and force a snap election with a vote of 74 in favour to 45 against.[12] The 45 votes against the resolution came from the entire membership of three parties: the Blue and White alliance (35 votes), Labor party (6 votes), and the Meretz party (4 votes). All other Knesset members voted for the resolution, with the exception of Roy Folkman, who was absent.[13]

The date for the election was set for 17 September.[1]

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 it is mathematically possible for a party to pass the electoral threshold and have only three seats (since 3.25% of 120 members = 3.9 members).[14]

Surplus-vote agreements[edit]

Two parties 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.[15] The following agreements were signed by parties prior to the election:


Parliamentary factions[edit]

The table below lists the parliamentary factions represented in the 21st Knesset.

Name Ideology Primary demographic Leader April 2019 result
Votes (%) Seats
Likud National conservatism
National liberalism
- Benjamin Netanyahu 26.46%
35 / 120
Blue and White Big tent
- Benny Gantz, Yair Lapid 26.13%
35 / 120
Shas Religious conservatism
Sephardi and
Mizrahi Haredim
Aryeh Deri 5.99%
8 / 120
United Torah Judaism Religious conservatism Ashkenazi Haredim Yaakov Litzman 5.78%
8 / 120
HadashTa'al Communism
Arab nationalism
Israeli Arabs Ayman Odeh 4.49%
6 / 120
Labor Social democracy - Avi Gabbay 4.43%
6 / 120
Yisrael Beiteinu Nationalism
Russian-speakers Avigdor Lieberman 4.01%
5 / 120
Union of the Right-Wing Parties Religious Zionism
Religious conservatism
Modern Orthodox and
Chardal Jews
Rafi Peretz 3.70%
5 / 120
Meretz Social democracy
- Tamar Zandberg 3.63%
4 / 120
Kulanu Economic egalitarianism - Moshe Kahlon 3.54%
4 / 120
Ra'amBalad Islamism
Arab nationalism
Israeli Arabs Mansour Abbas 3.33%
4 / 120

Contesting parties[edit]

The Likud (election symbol: מחל) was tied with Blue and White for the largest political party in the 21st Knesset, with 35 of the 120 seats. It is the party of Israel's current prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who is seeking to gain more power to build a government after failing to do so following the April election. Prior to the September election, the Likud and Kulanu parties announced on 29 May their intention to run together in the new election.[20] Kulanu officially dissolved itself and its remaining members joined the Likud on 31 July,[21] bringing Likud's Knesset representation up to 39 seats.

The Blue and White (election symbol: פה) alliance was created ahead of the April 2019 election and ended up being tied with Likud for the largest political party in the 21st Knesset, with 35 seats. Despite suggestions that the alliance should make changes due to their failure to achieve a majority in the April election, the alliance confirmed on 2 June 2019 that it will keep the same rotating premiership of Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid as in the previous election.[22] The party decided to run with the almost exact same list as they did in the April elections. Blue and White has ruled out sitting with Benjamin Netanyahu, due to the corruption investigations against him; however, it has not ruled out creating a National unity government with Likud if it replaced Netanyahu.[23]

The Joint List (election symbol: ודעם) alliance (which was dissolved ahead of the April 2019 elections) was reformed ahead of the September 2019 elections. It is made up of four ideologically diverse Arab Israeli parties, who together had 10 seats in the 21st Knesset. The Ra'am, Hadash, and Ta'al factions announced on 27 July that the alliance would be re-established,[24] Balad decided to join the next day.[25] The list is led by Hadash Chairman Ayman Odeh, who also led the alliance in the 2015 election. Odeh said that he is open to cooperation with Blue and White, but would not join their coalition.[26]

Shas (election symbol: שס) was the third largest political party in the 21st Knesset, with eight seats. Shas is led by Minister of Interior Aryeh Deri. Shas is a Mizrahi and Sephardi Haredi party, primarily concerned with rights and funding for those demographics. Shas declared early on that it was going to support Benjamin Netanyahu for prime minister, and ruled out sitting with Blue and White, due to disagreements with Blue and White leader Yair Lapid.[27]

United Torah Judaism (UTJ) (election symbol: ג) was the fourth largest political alliance in the 21st Knesset, with eight seats. UTJ is an alliance of two Ashkenazi Haredi parties (Agudat Yisrael and Degel HaTorah), and is mainly concerned with preserving funding and rights for their sector of the population. UTJ is led by Deputy Minister of Health Yaakov Litzman. Much like its Mizrahi counterpart Shas, UTJ declared early on that it was going to support Benjamin Netanyahu for prime minister, and ruled out sitting with Blue and White, due to disagreements with Blue and White leader Yair Lapid.[28]

The Labor-Gesher (election symbol: אמת) alliance includes the Labor party, which was the sixth largest party in the 21st Knesset with six seats, and Gesher, a party led by Orly Levy-Abekasis which did not pass the electoral threshold in the April election. Due to its collapse in the April election, Labor held its leadership primary on 2 July, which was won by Amir Peretz.[29] Following his victory, Peretz rejected merging into a greater leftist bloc and declared that he wanted to bring in new crowds to the party, and it was announced on 18 July 2019 that Labor and Gesher will run on a joint list,[30] with seven seats on the list reserved for Labor and three for Gesher.[31]

Yisrael Beiteinu (election symbol: ל) was the seventh largest party in the 21st Knesset, with five seats. The party has been led since its founding by Avigdor Lieberman, and it is running with the same list it presented in the April election. Lieberman sparked the repeat election by refusing to join Netanyahu's coalition, citing differences with the Haredi parties over drafting Haredi into the military. Due to his opposition to Netanyahu's Haredi coalition partners, Lieberman has declared that he will only support a unity government between Likud and Blue & White.[32]

Yamina[33] (election symbol: טב) is an alliance of several Religious Zionist parties headed by Ayelet Shaked. It is made up of the Union of the Right-Wing Parties, which was the eighth largest party in the Knesset with five seats, and the New Right, which did not pass the electoral threshold. After long-winded negotiations between the two factions, URWP leader Rafi Peretz agreed on 28 July to give Ayelet Shaked the number one spot on the United Right list.[34] The next day, an agreement between the Union of the Right-Wing Parties and the New Right was announced.[35] The two parties of the URWP, National Union–Tkuma[36] and The Jewish Home,[37] both voted on and approved the run with the New Right on 31 July. Part of the deal stipulated that the list would support Benjamin Netanyahu for the position of prime minister, despite resistance to this from the New Right.[35]

The Democratic Union (election symbol: מרצ) alliance includes several left-wing parties, who decided to run together in the September elections. The alliance was announced on 25 July 2019 and is led by Nitzan Horowitz. It will be made up of Meretz, the ninth largest party in the 21st Knesset with four seats, the new Israel Democratic Party formed by former prime minister Ehud Barak, Israeli Labor Party defector Stav Shaffir, and the extra-parliamentary Green Movement. The alliance declared that it would not sit with Netanyahu under any circumstances.[38]

Otzma Yehudit (election symbol: כף) was part of the Union of the Right-wing Parties in the April elections, but left after accusing the other parties in the alliance of not upholding their part of the deal. Otzma is led by Itamar Ben-Gvir. The United Right (which later renamed itself Yamina) attempted to convince Otzma Yehudit to re-enter their alliance, but Otzma declined their offer, calling it "insulting".[39] Otzma Yehudit initially signed a deal with Noam, but will run independently following a split between itself and Noam.[40]

Withdrawn parties[edit]

Zehut (election symbol: זן) was the 13th largest party in the April election, receiving 2.74% of the vote and not passing the electoral threshold. Zehut is led by Moshe Feiglin. The party was initially interested in running in a joint list with the New Right, but was rejected when the New Right decided to run with the URWP instead. Following this, Zehut decided that it would run alone.[41] On 29 August 2019, Zehut leader Moshe Feiglin announced an agreement with Prime Minister Netanyahu had been reached and that Zehut would withdraw from the election in return for Feiglin serving as a minister in the next government, and the promise that Likud will implement some of Zehut's economic and cannabis reforms.[42] Tamar Zandberg of the Democratic Union stated that her party plans to appeal the deal to the Central Elections Committee, on the grounds that the deal might constitute election bribery under Israeli law.[43] The deal was approved in a referendum by 77% of Zehut party members on 1 September.[44]

Noam (election symbol: כ) is a new religious Zionist party which was announced on 12 July 2019, which will be backed by Rabbi Zvi Thau of the Har Hamor yeshiva and led by Rabbi Dror Aryeh.[45][46] The party announced on 28 July that it had agreed to a joint run with Otzma Yehudit,[47] which Otzma approved the next day,[48] though they split on 1 August because Noam did not agree with Otzma including a secular Jewish candidate on the combined list.[40] Following the failed deal with Otzma, Noam decided to run alone.[49] The party launched a signature campaign on 27 August,[50] but dropped out of the race on 15 September.[51]

Opinion polls[edit]

These graphs show the polling trends from the time Knesset dissolved until the election day. No polls may be published from the end of Friday before the election until the polling stations closing on election day at 22:00.[52]

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

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Gil Hoffman; Lahav Harkov (30 May 2019). "Israel goes back to elections as Netanyahu fails to form coalition". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 30 May 2019.
  2. ^ Megan Specia (30 May 2019). "What You Need to Know About Israel's New Elections". The New York Times. Retrieved 5 June 2019.
  3. ^ Jeffrey Heller (13 May 2019). "Israel's Netanyahu gets two-week extension to form government". Reuters.
  4. ^ a b "Bill to dissolve Knesset, call elections on September 17 approved in 1st reading". The Times of Israel. 28 May 2019.
  5. ^ Jeffrey Heller (28 May 2019). "Netanyahu could face election rematch after ballot he said he won". Reuters.
  6. ^ Staff writer (28 May 2019). "Liberman: We will not give up on our principles". Arutz Sheva.
  7. ^ "After Netanyahu Fails to Form Government, Israel to Hold New Election". Haaretz. 30 May 2019.
  8. ^ Staff writer (28 May 2019). "PM, Lieberman reportedly drafting deal to avert early election". Israel Hayom. Retrieved 28 May 2019.
  9. ^ Kershner, Isabel (29 May 2019). "After Coalition Talks Crumble, Israel on Course for Another Election". The New York Times.
  10. ^ Staff writer. "Netanyahu issues cryptic hint that snap elections may be averted". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 30 May 2019.
  11. ^ Staff writer (28 May 2019). "Bill to dissolve Knesset approved in second and third reading". Arutz Sheva.
  12. ^ "Fresh election in Israel as coalition talks fail". BBC. 29 May 2019. Retrieved 29 May 2019.
  13. ^ "Knesset votes for new elections on September 17 after PM fails to form coalition". The Times of Israel. 30 May 2019.
  14. ^ "With Bader-Ofer method, not every ballot counts". The Jerusalem Post. 16 March 2014.
  15. ^ The Distribution of Knesset Seats Among the Lists – the Bader-Offer Method, Knesset website
  16. ^ "Yemina signs surplus voter agreement with the Likud". Arutz Sheva. 21 August 2019. Retrieved 21 August 2019.
  17. ^ "Labor and the Democratic camp signed a surplus vote agreement". Arutz Sheva. 21 August 2019. Retrieved 21 August 2019.
  18. ^ Staff writer (4 September 2019). "Shas, UTJ sign vote-sharing agreement ahead of election". The Times of Israel.
  19. ^ "Yisrael Beytenu signs vote-sharing agreement with Blue and White". Arutz Sheva. 20 August 2019. Retrieved 20 August 2019.
  20. ^ Marissa Newman (28 May 2019). "Likud okays merger with Kulanu, confirms Netanyahu as PM candidate". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 29 May 2019.
  21. ^ מורן אזולאי (31 July 2019). "הסוף של מפלגת כולנו: כחלון התפקד לליכוד". ynet (in Hebrew).
  22. ^ Staff writer (2 June 2019). "Blue and White: Gantz, Lapid to keep deal to rotate premiership". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 2 June 2019.
  23. ^ Raoul Wootliff (15 July 2019). "Gantz says 'in talks' with Likud reps over unity government sans Netanyahu". Times of Israel. Retrieved 2 August 2019.
  24. ^ Staff writer (27 June 2019). "Three Arab parties agree on joint Knesset run; Balad expected to decide Sunday". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 27 July 2019.
  25. ^ Adam Rasgon (29 July 2019). "Nationalist Balad party announces it will run on Joint List in autumn elections". The Times of Israel.
  26. ^ Raoul Wootliff (2 August 2019). "Top Arab MK says open to 'joining' Gantz". Times of Israel. Retrieved 2 August 2019.
  27. ^ Jeremy Sharon (22 July 2019). "Deri says Shas backing Netanyahu for PM, blames Liberman for elections". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 13 August 2019.
  28. ^ Staff (7 April 2019). "Litzman vows UTJ won't enter coalition with Blue and White". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 13 August 2019.
  29. ^ Raoul Wootliff (2 July 2019). "Ailing Labor elects past chairman Amir Peretz to lead it through next election". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 2 July 2019.
  30. ^ Michael Bachner; Staff writer (18 July 2019). "Labor's Peretz joins forces with Orly Levy-Abekasis, shuns Meretz". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 18 July 2019.
  31. ^ Gil Hoffman; Jeremy Sharon; Tamar Beeri (18 July 2019). "Labor nabs Orly Levy-Abekasis, Left joint list called off". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 18 July 2019.
  32. ^ Dov Lipman (16 June 2019). "Lieberman announces call to bring Likud and Blue and White into unity government". Jewish News Syndicate. Retrieved 2 August 2019.
  33. ^ Staff writer (12 August 2019). "United Right to run under name 'Yemina'". Arutz Sheva.
  34. ^ Tamar Pileggi (28 July 2019). "Peretz agrees to give Shaked No.1 spot on right-wing Knesset list". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 28 July 2019.
  35. ^ a b Staff (29 July 2019). "New Right, United Right reach final agreement on joint run". Israel National News. Retrieved 29 July 2019.
  36. ^ Staff writer (31 July 2019). "National Union party approves joint run with New Right". Israel National News. Retrieved 31 July 2019.
  37. ^ Staff writer (31 July 2019). "Jewish Home party approves unity deal with New Right". Israel National News. Retrieved 31 July 2019.
  38. ^ Gil Hoffman; Jeremy Sharon (25 July 2019). "Polls show Democratic Union Party to net 8-12 seats". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 27 July 2019.
  39. ^ Yotam Berger (1 August 2019). "Far-right Alliance Fizzles as Kahanist Party Announces Solo Run". Haaretz. Retrieved 2 August 2019.
  40. ^ a b Hezki Baruch (1 August 2019). "Otzma Yehudit and Noam cancel joint run". Arutz Sheva. Retrieved 1 August 2019.
  41. ^ Hezki Baruch (31 July 2019). "It's final: Moshe Feiglin's Zehut is running alone". Arutz Sheva. Retrieved 31 July 2019.
  42. ^ Gil Hoffman (29 August 2019). "Netanyahu promises Feiglin ministry so that Zehut Party ends race". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 29 August 2019.
  43. ^ "Zehut bows out of elections after Netanyahu promises Feiglin a cabinet post". The Times of Israel. 29 August 2019. Retrieved 29 August 2019.
  44. ^ Hezki Baruch (1 September 2019). "Zehut members overwhelmingly back deal to end Knesset bid". Arutz Sheva. Retrieved 1 September 2019.
  45. ^ David Rosenberg (12 July 2019). "New Religious Zionist party named". Arutz Sheva. Retrieved 12 July 2019.
  46. ^ "למפלגה החדשה של הר המור יש שם חדש: מפלגת נעם". Kippah. 12 July 2019.
  47. ^ Tamar Pileggi (28 July 2019). "Peretz agrees to give Shaked No.1 spot on right-wing Knesset list". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 28 July 2019.
  48. ^ "Otzma Yehudit approves joint run with No'am". Arutz Sheva. 29 July 2019. Retrieved 29 July 2019.
  49. ^ David Rosenberg (1 August 2019). "Right-wing Noam party files for independent Knesset run". Arutz Sheva. Retrieved 1 August 2019.
  50. ^ Hezki Baruch (27 August 2019). "Noam party embarks on 'signature campaign'". Arutz Sheva. Retrieved 27 August 2019.
  51. ^ Michael Bachner (15 September 2019). "Fringe far-right party Noam quits Knesset race 2 days before elections". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 15 September 2019.
  52. ^ s:he:חוק הבחירות (דרכי תעמולה)#סעיף 16ה (ח) (in Hebrew)

External links[edit]