Blue and White not sharing surplus votes

Not every vote counts with Israel’s Bader-Ofer method of calculating Knesset seats.

April 1, 2019 06:53
1 minute read.
THE BALLOT slips from the last elections are seen this week at the Israel Central Election Committee

THE BALLOT slips from the last elections are seen this week at the Israel Central Election Committee Logistics Center in Shoham. . (photo credit: AMMAR AWAD / REUTERS)


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With the deadline for reaching surplus-vote sharing agreements passing this weekend, Blue and White was left on its own.

The parties that paired up in this election are Likud and the Union of Right-Wing Parties, Labor and Meretz, New Right and Yisrael Beytenu, Shas and UTJ, and Hadash-Ta’al and UAL-Balad. In addition, the Pirate Party has an agreement with Na Nach, the Breslev hassid party; neither is expected to pass the threshold.

In addition to Blue and White, Kulanu and Zehut failed to sign any vote sharing agreement. Blue and White negotiated with Kulanu, but the talks broke down after the latter party’s leader, Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, committed to recommending Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu as prime minister.

Surplus-vote sharing agreements mean that a vote for one party can move to another if they both have votes that do not make up a full seat.

The method in calculating who gets the surplus votes is called the Bader-Ofer Law, after Gahal MK Yohanan Bader and Alignment MK Avraham Ofer – from the forebears of Likud and Labor, respectively – who proposed it in 1973.

After the polls close at 10 p.m. next Tuesday, all eligible votes will be counted. The threshold for a party to enter the Knesset is 3.25% of eligible votes. In 2015, one Knesset seat was worth 33,511 votes; the number this year will depend on how many people vote.

The number of eligible votes for parties above the threshold is divided by 120 to calculate the allocation of seats, and then each party’s votes are divided by the gauge. The parties’ seats added together are usually less than 120, and the extra seats are given out in the second and third stages.

Next, surplus-vote sharing agreements are taken into consideration.

Votes for two parties that came to an agreement are added together, and are divided again, in proportion to the number of seats they have in the general gauge. The larger party usually gets the extra seat from the agreement, but neither party loses a seat. The same calculation is done within each pair to determine which party gets the seat.

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