Centrists Big Winners in Israeli Election

When the votes were tallied on Tuesday, it was Israel’s centrist parties who were celebrating the loudest. Although Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Likud-Beiteinu will be the largest party in the next Knesset, the merger party only gathered 31 seats, far short of the 40-plus seats the party was originally expected to win. In contrast, newcomer Yesh Atid, which translates to “There is a Future,” won a surprising 19 seats, making the centrist party a powerful force of moderation.

Before the election, it was anticipated that the right-wing block would easily gain the 60-plus seats needed to form a governing coalition. But, in an unlikely turn of events, the right-wing block won 61 seats. Although the result leaves the right with a one vote majority, that majority is too slim to form a coalition around. The center/center-left finished with 59 seats, but it is unlikely that the center-left will be able to form its own competing coalition because doing so would require an unprecedented inclusion of Arab parties who are generally absent from Israel’s governing coalitions.If Prime Minister Netanyahu wants to form a stable government, he must find a way to include a centrist party in his coalition. It is expected that Yesh Atid will be included in the coalition, but it is unclear just what ideological or political concessions Prime Minister Netanyahu will be willing to make to court the party’s inclusion.

Yair Lapid, who lead’s Yesh Atid, explained that his party would only join Netanyahu’s coalition if it received a firm commitment from the Prime Minister that would address rising house prices and economic issues burdening the middle class, ensure a return to earnest peace talks with the Palestinians, and end the draft exemptions awarded to the ultra-Orthodox. If Prime Minister Netanyahu is to include Lapid’s party in the coalition, it may lead to the exclusion of the ultra-Orthodox and/or far right wing parties, which have largely directed the Netanyahu government in recent years.

Although many parties were on the ballot in this week’s election, only 12 received enough votes to pass the 2% threshold for representation. The complete breakdown of political parties, the number of seats each won, and where they fall on the Israeli political spectrum is below:


Likud-Beiteinu: 31

Habayit Hayehudi: 12



Shas: 11

United Torah Judaism: 7



Yesh Atid: 19

Labor: 15

Meretz: 6

Hatnuah: 6

Kadima: 2


Arab and Hadash

United Arab List – Ta’al: 4

Balad: 3

Hadash: 4


Image courtesy of Edi Israel/Israel Sun/Rex Feat

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Mikey Pasek

About Mikey Pasek

Mikey Pasek is an Eisendrath Legislative Assistant. He is from Philadelphia, PA, and is a graduate of Bates College. Follow Mikey on twitter @mikeypasek and on the web at www.michaelhpasek.com


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