Twenty political parties have thus far failed to pass the electoral threshold in
Tuesday’s elections, bringing the total number of so-called “wasted votes” up to
almost 250,000, according to statistics released by the Central Elections
In total, 247,967 ballots were cast for parties that
failed to obtain the two percent of the total vote necessary to enter the
Knesset, and as such, will not be included in the calculations for apportioning
the legislature’s 120 seats.
These votes, if taken as a percentage of the
total number of ballots cast, are equivalent to around eight
The current figure of approximately a quarter million stands at
over a hundred thousand more than the 104,000 such ballots tallied in the 2009
While the number of wasted votes has fluctuated over the past
decade, it has remained high. In 2006, 183,000 were cast for failed parties
while there were 132,000 in 2003.
The largest party expected to fail, and
therefore the closest to making it into the Knesset, was the far-Right Strong
Israel party of MKs Michael Ben-Ari and Arieh Eldad – elected as members of the
National Union party – which garnered 1.73% of the vote with 61,825
The smallest party and the biggest loser in terms of pure
numbers was the Moreshet Avot party, which only received 499 votes, or 0.01% of
the total cast.
It is generally considered difficult for parties without
currently serving MKs to pass the threshold.
Aside from Strong Israel,
another small party that did not make it into the Knesset despite the presence
of a serving MK at its head was MK Haim Amsalem’s Am Shalem party, which came in
at 1.2% of the total vote with 43,095 of its supporters casting
Dr. Ofer Kenig, a researcher at the Israel Democracy Institute,
told The Jerusalem Post that some of the wasted votes are “definitely protest
Parties on the extreme Right and Left received support, he said,
from people who “rather than stay at home and not vote decided to vote for these
However, he asserted, not all of the votes cast for these
parties could be accounted for by the protest vote.
“Lots of parties that
didn’t pass the electoral threshold had very extensive social network activity
with Facebook and Twitter,” Kenig explained.
“Am Shalem, Eretz Hadasha
and Green Leaf all had very lively debates and lively activities within the
social networks and I guess that this created a kind of a buzz, a sense that
‘Yeah, we can make it’ because of how many supporters they had on Facebook. This
created a false feeling, an illusion, that they had a lot of
Such an illusion led to people casting ballots for parties
without much of a chance, he elaborated.
There is a good chance that the
incoming Knesset will pass legislation raising the electoral threshold, Kenig
believes, stating that such a move would “present a very big obstacle” for the
small parties in the next election.
The number of small parties, he
concluded, is “a testament that we have a very open political arena. The
electoral threshold is doing a very reasonable and decent job in the sense that
it is keeping democracy alive while diminishing the fragmentation of the
Knesset, which is high enough already.”