Friday, August 7, 2015

Supplement to the 2015 Knesset election

The Knesset election took place already five month ago, but the traditional paper about the Arab voting behaviour from Tel Aviv University's Konrad Adenauer Center is a welcome opportunity for a supplement. The great thing about the paper is, that you don't have to compile the data of Arab villages from the election commission yourself (not fun at all if you are not literate in Hebrew).

Bayan-The Arabs in Israel Issue no. 5, June 2015 (ed. by Itamar Radai & Arik Rudnizky)

Let me just highlight a few numbers:

The Joint (Arab) List led by Aymen Odeh reached 82.4% in the whole so called Arab sector (i.e. Arab villages and towns including Druze and Circassians - mixed cities with Jewish majority like Haifa or Akko not counted). If we add the 0.8% of the minor Arab parties who were not part of the Joint List, the Arab parties achieved 83.2% in the Arab sector. This is a rise of 5% compared to the 2013 election. If we have a comparative look at the 2009 election, when the Arab parties had gained 82.1%, it becomes clear that the 2015 election was hardly a historical triumph for the Arab parties - but rather a good, commendable result.


The relationship between the Druze in Israel and their Sunni or Christian neighbors has reached an all time low last year, however this is not reflected in the voting pattern. The share of the Joint List nearly remained the same compared to the combined result of the Arab parties in 2013. In fact the share of the Arab parties rose insignificantly to 19.1%, which indicates that their support base in the villages remains stable (even though among the Druze it might be below 19.1% because a share of this voters comes from the Christian and Muslim minorities in some of the villages).

The results of the Druze majority villages:

Zionist Camp 21.8%
Joint List 18.8%
Kulanu 17.9 %
Yisrael Beitenu 16.6%
Shas 7.5%
Likud 6.6%
Yesh Atid 3.6%
Meretz 2.2%
Jewish Home 0.8%.
  • First and foremost this is a disaster for Likud-MK Ayoob Kara, who quite impressively forced himself into the cabinet after the elections. In 2013 the joint Likud-Beitenu ticked had reached 23.2% in the Druze majority villages. It really seems like that even though he is the Druze link to the ruling party and a former cabinet member, he has no pulling power in his own community. Why? We can only speculate at this point. As far as I understand, Kara is often accused of not using his position enough on behalf of his fellow Druze regarding economic issues or disputes with the authorities.
  • The second remarkable fact, is the comeback of Labor which ran jointly with Hatnua as the Zionist Camp. In 2013 Labor had reached an all time low in the Druze villages of 8.2%, even weaker than Hatnua (8.8%). While in 2013 then Labor chairwoman Shelly Yachaimovic had abolished the slot reserved for a Druze candidate, this time a Druze was likely to be elected (he never made it though). Since there was no Druze on a Hatnua ticket on the list and former vice minister Majali Wahabe was also not supported by Livni, I assume that the result of the Zionist Camp has more to do with Labor than with Hatnua.
  • The formidable result of Kulanu isn't a huge surprise, since the party was represented among the Dzuze by ex-MK Akram Hasun. Hasun is the former mayor of Daliat al-Karmal (biggest Druze town in Israel) and for a brief period was also the last head of the Kadima party. In 2013 Kadima had gained 17% among the Druze, so nothing has really changed here apart from the party's name (in 2013 Kadima was only able to re-enter the Knesset due its strong results in some Druze villages).
  • Yisrael Beitenu with Druze MK Hamad 'Amar, who is quite popular with his "less talk more action image", showed clearly that they - and not the Likud - are the preferred Druze choice on the right.
  • Sephardi-Orthodox Shas (2013 at increadible 12.2%) lost nearly half of its share among the Druze but still is a local player in the Druze sector and stronger than the Likud.

Over the last two years the efforts to recruit the Arab-Christian community into military service have been increased by the former government and "Aramean" as a new national category separate from "Arab" was introduced. In Christian villages we see a trend of decline for the Arab parties. While in 2009 their share had been at roughly 78%, it dropped to 72.2% in 2013 and 70.1% this year.

Here are the results for the four (mainly) Christian villages:

Joint List 69.7%
Zionist Camp 10.3%
Meretz 9.7%
Yisrael Baytenu 2.9%
Shas 2.4%
Kulanu 2.1%
Likud 1.3%
  • We have to keep in mind, that this result only represents the voters of four villages which are entirely Christian or have a Christian majority. The vast majority of the Christians in Israels lives nevertheless in mixed Arab villages or cities. Therefore this result might not be a representative sample of the Christian Arab voter.
  • Is the trend of the decline of Arab parties among the Christians connected to the new government policies? This question is hard to answer but I would assume NO. First, this is a trend which was already occurring in 2013 before the de-Arabization of the Christians got steam. Second, the Zionist parties which gained the most votes among the Christians are the Zionist Union and Meretz. Both are not associated in any way to the latest de-Arabization campaign. The result of the Likud, which was the driving force behind the conscription efforts and the introduction of the Aramean nationality, is extremely low (only 1.3%) and even slightly behind the average of the whole Arab sector.
  • The voting rate (66.0%) of the Christian villages is again the highest among all groups in the Arab sector, we can assume this is connected to the relatively high level of education.
See here for the 2013 results.

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