A breakdown of voting patterns in various locales illuminates trends in Israel's political preferences.
By HAVIV RETTIG GUR
If the near-final election totals released Wednesday morning are any indication, Israelis are an undecided bunch. The largest party - Kadima - garnered a measly 22.5 percent of the vote.
But this nationwide reality did not hold up on the local level, according to figures released Wednesday by the official Central Elections Commission, which showed the large cities delivering more decisive results.
The capital Jerusalem tilted heavily right-wing and haredi, with the Likud garnering 24%, more than double Kadima's 11.5%. Over one-third of the vote - 34% - went to one of the two haredi parties, Shas and UTJ.
Meanwhile, Tel Aviv gave an overwhelming victory to Kadima (34%) and the best showing in any region for Meretz-Hatnua Hahadasha (8%). Labor, trailing some 2 points nationally behind the right-wing Israel Beitenu, handily defeated the latter party in Tel Aviv by a two-to-one margin, taking 15% to Israel Beitenu's 6%.
Haredi parties, by contrast, garnered less than 7.5% of the vote in Tel Aviv.
In Haifa, too, the Left did better than nationwide. Kadima won the overall vote with 28%, while Labor took 12.8, three points higher than its national figure. The Likud took just 20% of the city, followed by Israel Beitenu at 16.3%.
Yet the Tel Aviv-Haifa victories of the Left were balanced not only by Jerusalem, but by the South. In the wake of Operation Cast Lead in Gaza, the Gaza periphery region that absorbed much of the Hamas rocket onslaught showed strong right-wing tendencies in the elections.
Thus, the rocket-bombarded town of Sderot gave massive support to the Likud (33%), and a scant 12% to Kadima. Kadima also fared worse than Shas (13%) and just half as well as Israel Beiteinu, which pulled in some 23% of the western Negev town.
The National Union party showed one of its highest turnouts nationwide, taking 7% of the Sderot vote.
Beersheba, the "capital of the Negev," also tilted to the Right, giving 28% of the vote to Likud, while its significant Russian-speaking population helped give an astonishing 25% to Israel Beitenu.
Kadima took just 20% of the city's votes, followed by Shas and the fading Labor (7%).
Ashkelon offered up similar figures. The Likud took 31% and Israel Beiteinu 27% of the votes in the coastal city, which also boasts a sizable Russian-speaking population.
In contrast, Kadima garnered a lowly 16%, followed by Shas (11%) and Labor (6%). As in Beersheba, both Meretz and UTJ won just 1% of the city.
Some voters crossed ethnic lines. While only 1.5% of Jews voted for Arab parties, nearly 20% of Israeli Arabs voted for Jewish parties. A surprising number of them voted for United Torah Judaism, which had urged Arab voters to help it battle the influence of the secular and "racist" Israel Beitenu.
In the northern Arab town of Umm el Fahm, voters surprised with 8% for the National Union, though the majority of their votes were still invested in the three traditional Arab parties, Hadash (54%), Balad (24%) and the United Arab List (19%).
The southern Beduin town of Rahat showed it was a UAL stronghold, giving the Arab party 68% of the vote, while another 11% went to Balad. Kadima followed closely with 9% of the vote.
After them came Likud (5%), Labor (2%) and even Shas (1%) and, unexpectedly, Israel Beitenu (1%).
While some Arab Israelis were voting for haredi parties and the Likud, settlement residents went for Likud.
In Ariel, the party took a stunning 45% of the vote, sharing the city with Israel Beiteinu, which managed to earn 31%. In contrast, Kadima, which ran in 2006 on a platform of withdrawing unilaterally from the West Bank, got just 10% of the northern Samaria town.
Interestingly, the parties further right did not poll too favorably, with National Union receiving just 5% and Habayit Hayehudi just 1%.
The figures in Ariel were similar to another large West Bank city, Ma'aleh Adumim, where Likud won 45%, Israel Beitenu 15%, Kadima 13%, National Union 9% and Shas 8%.
Habayit Hayehudi got only 5%, followed by Labor (3%), and Meretz and United Torah Judaism (1%).
Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.
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