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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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.