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About the 1955 Elections

The 1955 elections took place against the background of internal confrontations in the ruling party between a moderate group, headed by Moshe Sharett, and the activists, headed by David Ben-Gurion. The  make-up of this Knesset remained more or less the same as that of the previous Knesset, with one significant change: Mapam split into its original two components (Mapam was originally a union of the workers’ party HaShomer HaTzair and the Ahdut HaAvoda–Poalei Tzion party). Its more ideologically inclined socialist, pro-Soviet branch retained the name Mapam, while its more activist branch broke off and reverted to the name Ahdut HaAvoda–Poalei Zion.

Out of the 18 lists that ran in the elections, 12 succeeded in gaining representation in the Knesset. Mapai lost five seats, but retained its position as the largest party (40 seats) and the only political force able to form a government. Even though Mapam had split in two, the two parliamentary groups that succeeded it (Mapam and Ahdut HaAvoda) together held 19 seats, four more than the united group  had held in the previous Knesset. The religious and ultra-Orthodox parties increased their representation moderately. On the right side of the political map, Herut, which won 15 seats, overtook the General Zionists, which had 13 seats. Herut thus became the largest party on the right. After the elections, Ben-Gurion returned as Prime Minister, replacing Moshe Sharett.

The negotiations for the formation of the new government lasted for approximately three months. In November 1955, Ben-Gurion presented his new government, which included Mapai, the National Religious Front (which quickly changed its name to the National Religious Party, known as NRP), Ahdut Ha’Avoda, Mapam, and the Progressives. The government was based on a solid majority of 75 members of Knesset (80 with the satellite Arab parties).

In January 1958, Ben-Gurion formed a second government following leaks from government meetings.

Elections for the 3rd Knesset


Number Eligible Voters


Electoral Threshold


Total Votes


Total Votes


Voter Turnout


Party Votes Count Number Of Seats Share Of Votes List Of Candidates Platform
Mapai 274,735 40 32.2 Candidates Candidates
Herut 107,190 15 12.6 Candidates Candidates
General Zionists 87,099 13 10.2 Candidates Candidates
National Religious Front 77,936 11 9.1 Candidates Candidates
Labor Unity 69,475 10 8.2 Candidates Candidates Platform Platform
Mapam 62,401 9 7.3 Candidates Candidates Platform Platform
Religious Torah Front 39,836 6 4.7 Candidates Candidates
Maki 38,492 6 4.5 Candidates Candidates
Progressive Party 37,661 5 4.4 Candidates Candidates
Democratic List for Israeli Arabs 15,475 2 1.8 Candidates Candidates
Progress and Work 12,511 2 1.5 Candidates Candidates
Agriculture and Development 9,791 1 1.1
Sephardim and Oriental Communities 6,994 - 0.8 Candidates Candidates
United Arab List 4,484 - 0.5 Candidates Candidates
Yemenite Association 2,459 - 0.3 Candidates Candidates
Original Religious List 2,448 - 0.3 Candidates Candidates
New Immigrants' List 1,188 - 0.1 Candidates Candidates

Related Links

זאב צחור, "מערכות הבחירות הראשונות והמפה הפוליטית", בתוך: צבי צמרת וחנה יבלונקה (עורכים), העשור הראשון, ירושלים: יד בן צבי, 1997, עמ' 40-27.