Analysis: The nuances behind the numbers

Regional vote breakdown offers insights on social, economic, geographic influences.

elections06.article.298 (photo credit: )
(photo credit: )
From a glance at the official summary of the voting returns published on Wednesday, Kadima appears to be the party of the complacent and Israel Beiteinu has replaced the Likud as the party of the dissatisfied. The official figures on the distribution of the 120 Knesset mandates published by the Central Election Committee did not hold any surprises.
According to the results, Kadima led with 29 seats, followed by Labor with 19, the Likud and Shas with 12 each, Israel Beiteinu close behind with 11, the National Union-NRP with nine, the Gil Pensioners Party with seven seats, United Torah Judaism with six, Meretz with five, the United Arab List with four, and Balad and Hadash with three each. But the regional breakdown of the votes offers some insights on the social, economic and geographic features that influenced these results. According to the voting patterns in the exclusively or mainly Jewish cities and towns, it appears that Kadima won the support of a large number of "satisfied" Israelis, but failed to make nearly as much headway in the poorer towns in the periphery and elsewhere. For example, Kadima won some of its largest majorities in the Israeli middle-class heartland. It easily outstripped all of the other parties in Ramat Hasharon (37.88 percent), Hod Hasharon (35.33%), Herzliya (35.12%), Ramat Gan (30.3%), Modi'in (32.34%), Kfar Saba (31.77%), and Rishon Lezion (32.41%). In most of these cities, Kadima Party leader Ehud Olmert and his list far outstripped Labor and the Likud. Kadima was slightly less successful in Tel Aviv, a Labor Party stronghold, where it won 27.92% of the vote, compared to Labor's 19.8%. On the other hand, it easily beat Labor in Givatayim by a vote of 32.29% to 22.62%. It is also interesting to note that, in almost all the cities that Kadima took easily, Israel Beiteinu fared poorly and the Likud did not do much better. The battle was primarily between Kadima and Labor. However, Kadima did not do well in the periphery. It won 9.16% of the vote in Ofakim, 16.35% in Dimona, 13.9% in Yeroham, 10.52% in Mitzpe Ramon and only 4.45% in Netivot. In every one of these towns, it lost to both Israel Beiteinu and the Labor Party. Israel Beiteinu picked up 16.3% of the vote in Ofakim, 22.7% in Dimona, 14.75% in Yeroham, 17.76% in Mitzpe Ramon and 15.54% in Netivot. Indeed, the only one of its main rivals that Kadima outdid in these towns was the Likud, which managed to beat its arch-rival only in Ofakim and Netivot. As the figures have shown, Israel Beiteinu scored very well in the development towns. In Beersheba, it came second only to Kadima with a whopping 20.14% of the vote. (Kadima won 21.78%.) It also did quite well in some of the less affluent cities in the center of the country. For example, it received the highest number of votes of all parties in Lod (19.31%) and also succeeded in Rishon Lezion (10.97%), Rehovot (10.28%), Ramle (10.45%), and Bat Yam (16.9%). In Kiryat Shmona it won 16.79% of the vote. The party did not do nearly as well in the older and wealthier cities in the center of the country, including Tel Aviv, where it scored only 4.28%. In Givatayim, it won 3.31% of the vote, in Herzliya 5.45%, in Ramat Gan 5.06%, and in Ramat Hasharon 2.7%. The Likud scored relatively consistently throughout the country, doing about as well in the development towns as it did in the more established cities. Some of its best results were in Rosh Ha'ayin (13.05%), Beit She'an (16.34% - with which it bested all the other secular parties), Ramle (13.24%) and Petah Tikva (11.03%). In Tel Aviv, it won only 8.74% of the vote and in Givatayim 8.39%. The Labor Party defeated the Likud in most of the development towns and other towns and cities with poorer populations. In addition to Ofakim, Dimona, Yeroham and Mitzpe Ramon, it also beat the Likud in Kiryat Gat, Kiryat Malachi, Ashdod, Kiryat Shmona, Beersheba, Rosh Ha'ayin and Yavne. The Likud beat Labor in Migdal Ha'emek, Beit She'an, Netanya and Ramle. The geographical statistics also indicate important trends for the Gil Pensioners Party, which provided the biggest election surprise of all. As would be expected, the party did well in cities known to have elderly populations. In Holon, for example, it won 11.61% of the vote, in Rishon Lezion 10.76%, in Tel Aviv 9.2%, in Bat Yam 9.5%, in Givatayim 12.79%, in Ramat Gan 13.28%, in Hod Hasharon 9.43% and in Petah Tikva 9.03%. These cities are located at the very core of the country and include many of the oldest communities. But there is a striking gap between these figures and the election results in other areas of the country, including the development towns and the poorer cities. For example, Gil won 0.74% of the vote in Ofakim, 0.45% in Netivot, 3.23% in Ashdod and 2.27% in Kiryat Malachi. In Bnei Brak, the party won 1.67%. The figures seem to indicate that in the more politically sophisticated parts of the country elderly voters did not need to hold on to previous political affiliations and identities and could drop them in favor of their new "non-political" identity as pensioners. In other parts of the country, elderly voters seemed not to be ready to give up their traditional identities and stuck to the ideological parties they had belonged to for years.