Four in five Arab and Druze voters cast ballots for Joint List, numbers show
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Arab and Druze turnout estimated at 59%

Four in five Arab and Druze voters cast ballots for Joint List, numbers show

Israel Democracy Institute finds that only 17.6% of Arabs and Druze who participated in Tuesday’s elections voted for Jewish-majority parties, compared to 28.4% in April

Adam Rasgon is the Palestinian affairs reporter at The Times of Israel

(L to R) Joint List candidates Ofer Cassif, Heba Yazbak, Mtanes Shehadeh, Ayman Odeh, Ahmad Tibi, Aida Touma-Suleiman and Iman Khatib Yassin appear before supporters at the alliance's campaign headquarters in the northern Israeli city of Nazareth on September 17, 2019, as the first exit polls are announced on television. (Ahmad GHARABLI / AFP)
(L to R) Joint List candidates Ofer Cassif, Heba Yazbak, Mtanes Shehadeh, Ayman Odeh, Ahmad Tibi, Aida Touma-Suleiman and Iman Khatib Yassin appear before supporters at the alliance's campaign headquarters in the northern Israeli city of Nazareth on September 17, 2019, as the first exit polls are announced on television. (Ahmad GHARABLI / AFP)

An estimated 81.3 percent of Arab and Druze voters cast ballots for the Joint List in Tuesday’s national elections, an Israel Democracy Institute report said after analyzing the near-final poll tallies.

The number is a sharp increase over the last election in April when an estimated 71% of Arab and Druze voters backed Hadash-Ta’al or Ra’am-Balad, two separate slates of the four largest Arab-majority parties, according to IDI calculations.

The IDI said its calculations were based on the results of 93.5% of the total vote in Tuesday’s elections. The Central Elections Committee has not released the final and complete elections results.

The Joint List, a coalition of Hadash-Ta’al and Ra’am-Balad, is poised to garner 13 seats in the Knesset and become the third-largest party in the parliament, according to the almost-final results. The party received 13 Knesset seats in 2015, but Hadash-Ta’al and Ra’am-Balad collectively won only 10 seats in April.

Arab Israeli voters at a polling station in Sakhnin on September 17, 2019. (Adam Rasgon/Times of Israel)

IDI estimated that Arab and Druze turnout in Tuesday’s elections reached 59.1%, about 20% higher than that of April’s elections. In contrast, the overall voter turnout in Israel in Tuesday’s vote was 69.4%.

Yousef Makladeh, a prominent Arab Israeli statistician, said that he calculated that Arab and Druze turnout reached 59.2%.

The Joint List has argued that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s anti-Arab rhetoric throughout his campaign, as well as on election day, increased the turnout of Arabs voters.

“[Netanyahu’s] incitement boomeranged,” Joint List campaign manager Aaed Kayal, 39, told The Times of Israel on Wednesday.

Makladeh agreed with Kayal’s assessment.

Throughout his campaign and on Tuesday, Netanyahu claimed that the Blue and White party planned to form a coalition with the support of the Joint List, and declared that an alliance of Arab-majority factions should not be involved in government decision-making.

He also contended many times on Tuesday that Arab Israelis were turning out to vote in high numbers, in an attempt to encourage his right-wing supporters to head to the polls. And Netanyahu tried and failed to push a bill through the Knesset to allow party observers to bring cameras into polling stations to prevent what his Likud faction alleged was rampant voter fraud in Arab communities.

In April, Likud observers brought hidden bodycams into 1,200 polling stations in Arab areas; the Central Elections Committee barred it from repeating such a scheme on election day.

The IDI report also estimated that 17.6% of Arab and Druze voters cast ballots for Jewish-majority parties. In contrast, it calculated that 28.4% of Arab voters cast ballots for Jewish-majority parties in April.

Campaign ads line one of the main roads in Tira, an Arab town just north of Kfar Saba, on September 15, 2019. (Adam Rasgon/Times of Israel)

IDI’s figures showed a significant drop in support among Arabs and Druze for Meretz, which ran in Tuesday’s vote as a part of the Democratic Camp electoral alliance. They said that only 2.9% of Arab and Druze voters cast ballots for the Democratic Camp compared to the 8.7% who voted for Meretz in April.

Experts have argued that one of the reasons a substantial number of Arabs voted for Meretz in April’s elections was to protest the breakup of the Joint List before that vote.

In the Negev and the Triangle, a predominantly Arab area in northern Israel, IDI estimates also indicated that the overwhelming majority of Arab and Druze voters cast ballots for the Joint List. They stated that 90.7% of Arab and Druze voters cast ballots for the Joint List in the Triangle, as well as 86.4% of those in the Negev.

According to the IDI figures, 81%  and 80% of Arab and Druze voters in the Triangle and Negev in April, respectively, voted for either Hadash-Ta’al or Ra’am-Balad.

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