Blue and White fail to attract support from religious-Zionist community

Gantz’s party actually lost half of its support from religious-Zionist community in September compared to the April election, likely due its declared refusal to sit with the religious-Zionist parties

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September 25, 2019 18:23
2 minute read.
Benny Gantz, chairman of the Blue and White party, places a hand on the Western Wall

Benny Gantz, chairman of the Blue and White party, places a hand on the Western Wall, March 28th, 2019. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

Despite serious efforts to tap into the religious-Zionist community and expand its voter base, Blue and White not only failed to attract significant support from this sector during the recent election, it actually lost support when compared with the previous election in April.

The liberal wing of the religious-Zionist community – accounting for perhaps 15% of the sector – has for some time been considered a potential pool of voters for centrist parties.

Blue and White made a concerted campaign to tap into these voters during the last election, but according to the statistics from the September 17 ballot, it does not appear to have been particularly successful.

Prof. Asher Cohen of Bar-Ilan University, an expert on the religious-Zionist community, looked at results from the 160 polling stations where the mainstream religious-Zionist party, Yamina, took the highest percentage of votes.

Such polling stations constitute a reliable indicator that the electorate in that area is to a high degree from the religious-Zionist community, explained Cohen.

In those 160 polling stations, there were some 64,000 votes in total, of which just 2,300 went to Blue and White, just 3.6% of votes cast at those stations.

According to Cohen, a minimum of 10% of religious-Zionists voters would be needed to get just one Knesset seat, whereas Blue and White got barely more than a third of such votes.

And not only did the party fail to attract serious support from the religious-Zionists community, it actually lost support compared to the election in April, when it got 6.8% of the vote in the top 160 polling stations for the religious-Zionist sector, a decrease of almost 50%.

One factor which might explain this precipitous decline is Blue and White’s declaration just over a week before the September election that it would not sit in government with the ultra-Orthodox or religious parties, which ostensibly included Yamina.

Cohen says that this likely upset religious-Zionist voters who were undecided about who to vote for, and led to the desertion of a significant section of the small number of religious-Zionist voters who voted for the party in April.

As for which other parties received votes from the religious-Zionist community other than Yamina, Cohen says that the Likud party likely received between three and four Knesset seats from the sector.

Otzma Yehudit received approximately one seat from the hard-line, conservative wing of the community, with other voters for the far-right party coming from Chabad and far-right voters in the secular and traditional sectors.

A small number of votes also went to United Torah Judaism.


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