Haredi men gather in Jerusalem for the funeral of Rabbi Shmuel Auerbach .
(photo credit: EHUD AMITON/TPS)
Despite the expectations of some analysts and observers, haredi voters voted overwhelmingly for the two haredi parties Shas and United Torah Judaism in last Tuesday’s election.
The growing community of so-called “modern haredim” who have adopted different aspects of modernity has been expected to change the voting patterns of the haredi community to a certain extent and vote for non-haredi parties.
But the figures from the latest election demonstrate that there is essentially no growth in the number of haredi voters voting for parties other than Shas and UTJ.
The achievement of these two parties in ensuring that the vast majority of haredi voters keep voting for the haredi parties was the critical factor in ensuring the impressive gains UTJ and Shas made in the recent election.
Shas, which languished in the polls on five and six seats actually managed to increase its representation from seven to eight Knesset seats, while UTJ has at least seven and perhaps eight seats, with the final results expected this Thursday.
According to Dr. Gilad Malach, director of the Israel Democracy Institute's Ultra-Orthodox in Israel Program, approximately 90 percent of haredi voters voted for the two haredi parties and just 10 percent for non-haredi parties such as Likud and the United Right Party.
In the last election in 2015 the numbers were confused somewhat by the Yahad party headed by Eli Yishai, a haredi party, which ran on a joint slate with Otzma Yehudit, a far-right national-religious party and received not insignificant support among the haredi community.
But in 2013, Malach says approximately 11 percent of haredi voters voted for non-haredi parties meaning that the there is no growth whatsoever, and even a possible minor decrease in the number of haredi voters voting for non-haredi parties.
Malach also notes that of the roughly 10% of haredi voters choosing non-haredi parties, approximately half likely come from the Chabad community where large numbers of voters vote for the hard right and far right parties, who in this election combined on the United Right list.
In terms of overall voting numbers, the number of UTJ voters rose in the 2019 election by some 39,000 votes, or 18.5%, over the 2015 vote.
This is roughly in line with the rate of population growth in the haredi community of 4.2% per year and represents a major achievement for UTJ in persuading the overwhelming majority of its voter base to keep voting for it.
Shas’s share of the vote actually increased by less than UTJ’s, rising by some 17,000 votes, an increase of just 7%.
Malach noted that although Shas vote share in the haredi stronghold cities of Bnei Brak, Elad, Modiin Illit, Beitar Illit and Jerusalem increased, its voters in the geographic periphery remained static accounting for its less impressive overall voter share increase.
In general however, Malach said that the expectation that so-called modern haredim would change haredi voting patterns has not transpired.
During the last decade, significant numbers of people from the haredi community have served in the IDF, obtained higher education qualifications, joined the workforce and adopted Internet usage, or a combination of those factors.
It was thought that this societal change might bring political change to the community, and mainstream parties such as Likud, Labor and Blue and White added haredi candidates to their electoral slates.
But this political change is not yet evident.
“People can identify as modern, adopt modern behaviours, such as higher education and entering the work force, but vote for haredi parties and show that they feel still part of the community and want to vote for the sake of the community,” said Malach.
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