An ultra-Orthodox Jewish man helps kids cast his ballot at a polling station as Israelis vote in a parliamentary election, in Jerusalem April 9, 2019.
(photo credit: RONEN ZVULUN/REUTERS)
The haredi political parties Shas and United Torah Judaism have recorded a spectacular electoral success, having both gained eight seats with 98% of the votes counted.
This represents a 23% increase from their electoral representation in the current Knesset, and will surely give them even greater political clout in the new government, in which they will almost certainly be huge actors.
Shas and UTJ are now tied as the third largest parties in the Knesset after Likud and Blue and White.
The formidable results for the haredi parties were driven by stunning voter-turnout levels in haredi stronghold cities.
Modi'in Illit reported 98% turnout, Elad 99% and Bnei Brak 83%. As of 9:30 a.m. Wednesday morning, Beitar Illit was reporting 105% voter turnout, in what appears to be some kind of counting error.
This massive turnout was itself driven by regimented and organized get-out-the-vote campaigns, which focused on the “gravity” of the hour and the “existential danger” to the haredi world if its parties were not successful.
These campaigns focused heavily on the instructions issued by UTJ and Shas, in the name of the most senior haredi rabbinic leaders, to go out and vote - and to vote for the haredi parties in what was framed, like in past elections, as a religious obligation.
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