Home > What we do > US Initiatives > Hadassah Advocacy Center > Hadassah National Action Center > Action Alert Archive

2013 Israeli Elections Results

Action Alerts
2013 Israeli Elections Results

Last Tuesday, January 22, Israelis held elections for their 19th Knesset (120-seat Parliament) and yesterday Israeli President Shimon Peres was presented with the official election results from the Central Elections Committee Chairman. President Peres will meet with leaders of each party before assigning one the task of forming a new coalition government. Current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose party won the most seats in the election, is expected to form the next coalition. However, analysts have predicted several possible coalition scenarios.

Below is a chart showing the number of seats won by the parties:

Party Seats
Likud-Beiteinu (right-wing, led by Benjamin Netanyahu in coalition with Avigdor Lieberman) 31
Yesh Atid (centrist, led by Yair Lapid) 19
Labor (left-wing, led by Shelly Yachimovich) 15
Jewish Home (right-wing, led by Naftali Bennett) 12
Shas (right wing) 11
3 Arab parties (left wing) 11(combined)
United Torah Judaism (right wing) 7
Hatnuah (center left, led by Tzipi Livni) 6
Meretz (left-wing) 6
Kadima (center left) 2
Total
Right-wing parties (combined) 61
Center/Left-wing parties (combined) 59

President Peres stated that he would facilitate the establishment of a government based on the choices of the Israeli people, while also allowing all parties to be heard. "I will make an effort to do this with the necessary urgency while allowing each faction to state its positions," he said. "I consider this a great privilege and an explicit duty."

Click here to read the Office of the President's press release, with time tables of the party leader meetings occurring this week.

Learn about the Israeli political system.

Review and connect to election analysis.

Join the conversation! Scroll down and post your thoughts about the Israeli elections.

Israeli Politics

The election process in Israel is completely different than in the United States. In Israel, which is a parliamentary democracy, voters vote only for the legislative branch—the Knesset—and do not vote for the executive branch. Despite the focus on individual candidates, Israelis vote only for a party, not a person. The ballot is the same in every ballot box in Israel. Each party is represented on the ballot by a long list of candidates for that party's slate. Voters do not choose who occupies slots on a party's slate.

In Israel, the entire country is one voting bloc; every vote holds equal weight and there are no separate voting districts like in the United States. The 120 Knesset seats are assigned in proportion to the percentage of votes won by each party (with the caveat that a party must win a minimum of 2% of the national vote in order to secure its first seat). Thus, Israeli elections do not have "winners" and "losers." In this election, for example, Likud-Beiteinu received only 23% of the vote, but won the largest percentage of votes and therefore the most seats in the Knesset.

Technically speaking, an Israeli government is formed if a single party wins a majority of Knesset seats (at least 61 out of 120). However, under Israel's electoral system, it is very difficult for any one party to win 61 seats in the Knesset and, to date, no party has ever done so. Generally, Israeli governments are formed when the party that wins the largest Knesset representation achieves a majority of seats by joining in coalition with other parties. But, this is not always the case, as the law requires the President to poll the heads of the parties in the Knesset on whom they each think should form the government, and then choose someone to form the government from those recommendations. Thus, it may be that the President chooses a person to form a government whose party did not win the most Knesset seats. In all cases, Israeli governments are coalitions, with those parties remaining outside the coalition making up the opposition.

Once President Peres meets with the party leaders and appoints someone to form a government, that party leader will have 28 days to do so. The party leader can ask for that term to be extended for another 14 days if needed. If that person is unsuccessful, Peres will choose another person who will have an opportunity to try to form a government. Whoever is successful in forming the government will become the Prime Minister. While the government may be formed quickly, it could also be up to six weeks before Israel will know what its government will look like and who will be its next Prime Minister.

Election Analysis

Despite initial reports that votes were spilt evenly between both wings, the final tallies showed that the right-wing has a slight majority (61-59). The second largest block was won by the new centrist party Yesh Atid (There is a Future), which focused its campaign heavily on domestic and economic issues. Following the election, the leaders of Likud-Beiteinu and Yesh Atid spoke to these results and pledged to form a broad coalition.

Likud-Beiteinu leaders, Prime Minister Netanyahu and second in command Avigdor Liberman, made statements that the new government would also focus on social issues such as affordable housing, expanding mandatory military service, and changing the system of government.

Prime Minister Netanyahu: We woke up this morning to a clear message from the public: it wants me to form a government that will bring about great internal changes. I spoke to Avigdor Liberman and we decided that we will focus our talks on these three core issues, in addition to maintaining Israel's security, in an effort to build as broad a coalition as possible.

Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid: I call on the leaders of the political establishment to work with me together, to the best of their ability, to form as broad a government as possible that will contain moderate forces from the left and right, the right and the left, so that we will truly be able to bring about real change.

Had the votes been even, there may have been a possibility that the left wing could form a coalition or force a new election. With the right wing in the majority, and Likud-Beinteinu substantially receiving the highest percentage of votes, it is extremely likely that Netanyahu will remain Prime Minister. In theory, Netanyahu could form a coalition with all the right-wing parties. However, Yesh Atid has endorsed Netanyahu and will likely join the coalition. Right-wing party Jewish Home (Bayit Yehudi), led by Naftali Bennett, also endorsed Netanyahu. Both parties campaigned hard on the issue of military service by the ultra-orthodox community; however they have stark differences on many other issues. In order to form the coalition, each participating party must negotiate and agree on the division of leadership positions. Yesh Atid and Bayit Yehudi have both started voicing their preferences, including the coveted Finance Committee Chair, Education Ministry, and Housing and Construction Ministry.

The right-wing ultra-orthodox parties Shas and United Torah Judaism, which were members of Netanyahu's coalition in the last Knesset, are negotiating together as a block of 18 seats. Netanyahu could successfully form a coalition without these parties, however the larger the coalitions the more stable his government will be. The ultra-orthodox parties are working together to limit the influence of Yesh Atid, but are reportedly in negotiations to reach a compromise regarding orthodox military service.

Labor Party leader Shelly Yachimovich, whose party received the third highest number of votes, has pledged to be "a fighting opposition like none other" to Netanyahu's coalition. Many are interested in decision of Tzipi Livni, Former Kadima Leader and Foreign Affairs Minister, who formed her own center-left party Hatnuah last November. Hatnuah only received six votes, but could be another center-left element to bolster Yesh Atid in the coalition.

Below are several media analyses of the election results. All opinions are those of the author, and not endorsed by Hadassah in any way.

Daniel Gordis: We Gave Peace a Chance (International Jerusalem Post) & Israel Shows Her True Colors (New York Daily News) Shmuel Rosner: A Better Bibi (New York Times)
Dylan Byers on the media coverage of the election (POLITICO) [Walter Russell] Mead: U.S. media failed on Israeli election, U.S. media's Israeli elections fail, cont. & Israeli elections: The New Yorker's David Remnick responds to Walter Russell Mead
Moshe Arens: Emotional voters vs. rational voters (Haaretz)

Peres meets with factions over formulation of gov't (Jerusalem Post)

Date: 1/31/2013

Stand With Pregnant Workers Day of Action

Hadassah Supports Senate Passage of Child Care Act for Working, Low-Income Families

Hadassah Concerned by Unilateral Actions for Palestinian Statehood

Bring Alan Gross Home From Cuba!

Hadassah Deeply Concerned by Act of Violence against Jewish Student at Temple University

Urge Congress to Affirm Support for Israel

Hadassah Disappointed by Supreme Court Hobby Lobby Decision

Hadassah Responds to Presbyterian Church Divestment Decision

Advocate for Return of Kidnapped Israeli Teens

Hadassah Congratulates Israeli President-Elect Reuven Rivlin

Hadassah Deeply Concerned about Palestinian Unity Government

House Passes Major Sex Trafficking Legislation

Hadassah Expresses Disappointment over Continued Calls for Israel Boycotts

Hadassah Expresses Outrage about Nigerian Kidnappings and Urges Action

Hadassah’s Response to Kerry’s Use of Apartheid Term

Slavery: A Modern-Day Reality

Support Fair Pay for Women & Families

The Peace Process: Updates & Uncertainty

Advocate for Israel's Security

Stand Up For Israel

Take Action for Human Trafficking Prevention Month

Reproductive Rights after Roe v. Wade

Urge Congress to Prevent a Nuclear Iran

Support Israel & Academic Freedom

American Studies Association Decision to Adopt an Israel Boycott Resolution a Violation of Academic Freedom

Advocate for Gun Control in Memory of Sandy Hook

International Human Rights Day 2013

Buy Israeli Goods for Hanukkah

Interim Agreement on Iranian Nuclear Program

Urge Senate to Support Fair Minimum Wage Act

Hadassah Pledges Relief and Aid to Victims of Typhoon Haiyan

Senate Passes LGBT Employment Non-Discrimination Act

Women's Rights Update

Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America Mourns Passing of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef

Hadassah Welcomes Women of the Wall Announcement Regarding Prayer at Kotel

2013 United Nations General Assembly Speeches

Women's Equality Day 2013

Hadassah Celebrates 20 Years of Family and Medical Leave Act, Advocates for Expanding Paid Leave Opportunities

Hadassah Approves New Policy Statements

Hadassah Reaffirms Support for LGBT Equality

Hadassah Reaffirms its Resolution on a Woman's Right to Choose

Hadassah Welcomes New Rabbinical Judges Law

50 Years of the Equal Pay Act

Support Moving U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem

Hadassah Welcomes Continued Progress Toward Expanding Egalitarian Prayer at Western Wall

Hadassah Congratulates Sharansky, Netanyahu for Progress Toward Expanding Egalitarian Prayer at Western Wall

Equal Pay Day 2013

Advocate for Comprehensive Gun Control Legislation

Support Contraceptive Coverage Mandate

Gay Rights at the Supreme Court

Support Gun Violence Prevention

Hadassah Condemns Turkish Prime Minister’s Comments on Zionism

Hadassah Applauds House Reauthorization of Inclusive, Bipartisan Violence Against Women Act

Tomorrow House Votes on VAWA

Buy Israel Week 2013

Women's Rights Update

2013 Israeli Elections Results

Support Pay Equity!

Hadassah National Board Votes on Policy Issues

40th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade

Hadassah Applauds Netanyahu’s Plan to Evaluate Prayer at Kotel

Hadassah Reaffirms Support for Assault Weapons Ban

A Capitol Event: Hadassah Takes the 113th Congress by Storm

Protect Charitable Giving Incentives

Palestinians Granted Statehood Status

Middle East Update: Palestinians at the UN

Ceasefire Reached

Show Support for Israel: Operation Pillar of Defense

Middle East Update: Today, Israel launched Operation Pillar of Defense

Get Out and Vote! - Election Day 2012

Women's Rights Update

2012 United Nations General Assembly

National Voter Registration Day

Attacks on U.S. Diplomats

Women's Equality Day 2012

Munich Moment of Silence at Maccabi Games

Jonathan Pollard Update

Diplomacy & Security: Israel and its Neighbors

Hadassah Welcomes Court's Decision to Uphold Affordable Care Act

Continue Support for Contraception Access

Hadassah Urges Peace Over Divestment

The Fight for Pay Equity Goes On

Senate Votes on Pay Equity Tomorrow

UNESCO holds "Question of Palestine" Meeting

U.S., Israel and Iran: A Legislative Update

Support an Inclusive VAWA, Oppose H.R. 4970

Support Women's Employment Rights

Petition to Honor the Munich 11

60 Minutes Report: Christians of the Holy Land

Happy Birthday Israel & Hadassah

Reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act

April 17th is Equal Pay Day!

International Criminal Court Rejects Gaza War Investigation

Israel & the UN Human Rights Council

Israeli Security Update

Iran Center Stage at AIPAC, White House

Middle East Updates: Impact on Israel & Regional Balance of Power

Update: Protect Women's Preventive Health Access

UN Security Council Condemns Attacks on Israeli Diplomats

Hadassah Joins Jewish Energy Covenant Campaign

Reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act

39 Years after Roe v. Wade

White House Supports Women’s Preventive Health Coverage

Protecting Women's Rights in Israel

Hadassah Thanks Ambassador Killion

International Human Rights Day

Iran Sanctions Update

Buy Israel Week

Speak Out Again for Preventive Health Services

Increase Sanctions on Iran

Hadassah Joins HERvotes Coalition

UNESCO Approves Palestinian Membership

Urge HHS to Protect Women's Healthcare Access

Update: Palestinian UNESCO Membership

Welcome Home Gilad Shalit

Reports: Deal Reached for Shalit Release

Jonathan Pollard Petition

Palestinians Win Preliminary Vote for UNESCO Membership

UDI Recap & Update

Update: Today at the UN Palestinians Submit Application for UN Membership, Netanyahu Extends Hand in Peace

Unilateral Declaration of Independence Update

Remarks of President Barack Obama – As Prepared for Delivery Address to the United Nations General Assembly

Protect Charitable Giving Incentives

Petition: Release Alan Gross from Cuba

Solidarity with Israel Letter

Update: Attacks on Southern Israel

Hadassah Condemns Attacks in Israel

Hadassah Continues Women’s Health Advocacy

Petition Against a Unilaterally Declared Palestine

Israel Action Network:
Community Response to UDI-UN Recognition of Palestinian State


Final Attempt to Renew Mid-East Peace Talks

Supreme Court Decision Underscores Need for Paycheck Fairness Act

Hadassah Calls for Compassion for Pollard

Conference of Presidents Lauds Prime Minister Netanyahu's Commitment to Peace and U.S.-Israel Relationship

Netanyahu Addresses AIPAC, Congress

Update: U.S. - Israel Relations

Hadassah Responds To Abbas Op-Ed In New York Times

Demonstrations and Violence at Israel's Borders

Urge Congress to Oppose H.R. 3

Urge Your Senator to Support Rescinding the Goldstone Report

Wear Red for Equal Pay Day Tomorrow!

Stand Up for Women's Health Lobby Day

Hadassah Condemns Terror Attacks in Israel

Women's History & Women's Rights

Stem Cell Action Coalition Doubles in Size to 62 Affiliated Organizations

Unrest In Egypt

Update: Durban III Conference, September 2011

Hadassah Welcomes the 112th Congress

Combat Sex Trafficking in the United States

   |  Who We Are  |  What We Do  |  Where We Do It  |  Read About It  |  Join Now  |  Donate  |
  |  Login  |  Contact Us  |  Careers  |  Terms & Conditions  |  
Copyright ©2014 Hadassah is a registered trademark of Hadassah, the Women's Zionist Organization of America