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Photo by: Marc Israel Sellem
The 19th Knesset: More religious, less testosterone
By HERB KEINON
25/01/2013
39 incoming MKs are Orthodox, 27 are women.
 
In 1977, Channel 1 anchorman Haim Yavin famously declared “Ladies and gentleman, a turnaround!” when announcing the Knesset returns that brought the Likud to power for the first time.

He was referring to an ideological turnaround.

Another type of turnaround took place on Tuesday evening, albeit in a more minor key – a demographic one. The 19th Knesset is more religious, more feminine, younger and more personally invested beyond the Green Line than ever before.

It also has an abundance of new blood.

In the US congressional elections of 2010, the ones the Tea Party dominated, America was astonished that 86 of its elected lawmakers, or 16 percent, would be first-time lawmakers.

That pales in comparison to Israel, which this week voted in no fewer than 49 freshmen, or 41% of the Knesset. Another five representatives will be returning to the Knesset after various periods of absence.

The soldiers’ votes, counted on Thursday, gave another seat to Naftali Bennett’s Bayit Yehudi, which meant a 27th woman in the Knesset, or 23% of the parliament, an Israeli record.

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By comparison, women make up 55% of the parliament in Rwanda; 25% in France; 22% in Britain; 18% in the US; 2% in Egypt; and 0% in Qatar.

The incoming Knesset will also be more religious than any in the state’s history, with 39, or one of every three MKs, living a religious lifestyle. This is an increase of 11 over the previous Knesset.

In addition to the 11 Shas, seven United Torah Judaism, and 11 of the 12 Bayit Yehudi members, the new religious members of the Knesset are Elazar Stern from Tzipi Livni’s party, Shai Piron, Aliza Lavi and Dov Lipman from Yesh Atid, and Ze’ev Elkin, Tzipi Hotovely, Yuli Edelstein, David Rotem, Moshe Feiglin and Shimon Ohayon from Likud Beytenu.

The Knesset will include seven immigrants from the former Soviet Union, two Ethiopian immigrants (Yesh Atid’s Pnina Tamnu-Shata and Shimon Solomon), and one – Lipman – from the US.

That there will only be one kibbutznik – Bayit Yehudi’s Zvulun Kalfa – in the 19th Knesset (as opposed to 26 in the First Knesset, a number three times as high as the kibbutz population’s proportion of the general population at the time), which shows what a difference 65 years make.

Those who live beyond the Green Line have replaced kibbutz members as the segment of the population most overrepresented in the Knesset.

Twelve members of the 19th Knesset (10%) live beyond the Green Line, as opposed to 4% of the country’s population.

Another overrepresented demographic is ex-journalists, who make up nearly 10% of the next Knesset. Five former journalists – Yair Lapid, Tamnu- Shata, and Ofer Shelah from Yesh Atid, and Meirav Michaeli and Miki Rosenthal from Labor will join five other ex-journalists already in the parliament: Shelly Yacimovich, Uri Orbach, Nitzan Horowitz, Gideon Sa’ar and Silvan Shalom.

Journalists will be more prevalent in the Knesset than former generals, once one of the more dominant groups in the parliament, of which there will be only five this time: former chiefs of staff Moshe Ya’alon and Shaul Mofaz, who will be joined by Amram Mitzna, formerly head of the Central Command, and Stern, who served as IDF manpower head.

The other general in the Knesset is Labor’s Binyamin Ben- Eliezer. There will also be one former Shin Bet head: Yesh Atid’s Yaakov Perry.

While journalists and the settler population are overrepresented, the Arab population is underrepresented, with 11 Arab and one Druse MKs, a drop of two. Ten of the MKs are from the three Arab parties, while the 11th is Issawi Freij from Meretz. The Knesset’s only Druse member this time is the Likud Beytenu’s Hamed Amer. Arabs make up about 21% of the country’s population.

While there were numerous stories before the election predicting that the country’s Arabs would stay away from the polls, Israel Radio reported on Thursday that voter turnout among the Arab population was 58%. Although it was 9 percentage points lower than the 67% turnout in the Jewish sector, it is still a respectable rate by Western standards. For instance, in the last US election some 57.5% of all eligible voters turned out.

Interestingly enough, some 21% of the Arab vote went to Jewish/Zionist parties, with more voting for the Likud and Shas (8%), than for Meretz and Labor (6.8%). Another 2.6% of the Arab vote went to Kadima.
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