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Note that the lists of candidates and platforms in this table are in Hebrew.

About the 1949 Elections

The first elections for the government of the State of Israel were scheduled to take place in October 1948, but were postponed for three months due to the on-going battles of the War of Independence. In fact, these were not elections for the Knesset, but for the Constituent Assembly, which, in accordance with Israel's Declaration of Independence, was intended to prepare a constitution for the new state. The Constituent Assembly was soon renamed the First Knesset. Due to fundamental differences of opinion, the First Knesset never succeeded in preparing a Constitution; in 1951 it was decided to enact basic laws on each topic separately, which would be combined into a constitution once all of them were enacted.

The elections for the Constituent Assembly were an important test for the political forces that had operated during the period of the Yishuv (the organized Jewish community during the pre-State period of the British Mandate). The last elections for the institutions of the Yishuv had been held five years earlier, and the electorate had nearly doubled since then. Consequently, there was a great deal of uncertainty about the outcome of the elections. The main struggle in this election was between two workers' parties—Mapai and Mapam— which differed on many ideological counts. Mapai had a pro-Western orientation, whereas Mapam was pro-Soviet. Issues of religion and state, attitudes toward the Arab minority, and socio-economic issues also emerged in the election campaign.

Of the 21 lists that ran in the elections, 12 entered the Knesset. Mapai received 46 Knesset seats, and became the dominant political power. Mapam received 19 seats, while Herut, which had emerged from the Etzel (IZL) underground movement, received 14. The performance of the liberal General Zionists was disappointing, and it received only seven seats.

Although Mapai leader David Ben-Gurion could have formed a left-wing government, he preferred to leave Mapam out of the government and to lay the foundations for cooperation with the religious bloc, which was made up of four separate parties that had run on a single  list in this election. The coalition enjoyed the support of 73 Members of Knesset (MKs) from five parties: Mapai, the United Religious Front, the Progressives, the Sepharadim and Oriental Communities list (Sepharadim Ve’Edot HaMizrah), and the Democratic List of Nazareth, an Arab minority party affiliated with Mapai. There were 13 ministers in the government. Ben-Gurion formed a second government, with minor ministerial changes in November 1950.

The Elections for the Constituent Assembly


Number Eligible Voters


Electoral Threshold


Total Votes


Voter Turnout


Party Votes Count Number Of Seats Share Of Votes List Of Candidates Platform
Mapai 155,274 46 35.7 Candidates Candidates
Mapam 64,018 19 14.7 Candidates Candidates
United Religious Front 52,982 16 12.2 Candidates Candidates
Herut 49,782 14 11.5 Candidates Candidates
General Zionists 22,661 7 5.2 Candidates Candidates
Progressive Party 17,786 5 4.1 Candidates Candidates
Sephardim and Oriental Communities 15,287 4 3.5 Candidates Candidates
Maki 15,148 4 3.5 Candidates Candidates
Democratic List of Nazareth 7,387 2 1.7 Candidates Candidates
Fighters List 5,363 1 1.2 Candidates Candidates
WIZO 5,173 1 1.2 Candidates Candidates
Yemenite Association 4,399 1 1.0 Candidates Candidates
Workers Bloc 3,205 - 0.7 Candidates Candidates
Brit HaTzohar 2,892 - 0.7 Candidates Candidates
Ultra-Orthodox List 2,835 - 0.7 Candidates Candidates
Popular Arab Bloc 2,812 - 0.7 Candidates Candidates
Working and Religious Women 2,796 - 0.7 Candidates Candidates
Yitzhak Gruenbaum List 2,514 - 0.6 Candidates Candidates
United List of Religious Workers 1,280 - 0.3 Candidates Candidates
For Jerusalem 842 - 0.2 Candidates Candidates
Traditional Judaism List 241 - 0.1 Candidates Candidates