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

 About the 1961 Elections

The term of the Forth Knesset was the shortest in the history of the State. Approximately 21 months after the previous elections, the citizens of Israel were once again called to the polls, this time due to the Lavon affair, which involved a failed underground operation in Egypt when Pinhas Lavon was Minister of Defense. The question of who gave the order for the operation was the focal point of the campaign, and raised questions regarding the character of the young Israeli democracy and what was going on within the administration. There was hardly a single public institution that was not involved somehow in the crisis—the Knesset, the courts, IDF, the Histadrut, Israel's political parties, the civil service, and the media. Some people believe that the Lavon affair marked the beginning of the end of Mapai as the dominant party. The crisis continued even after the elections, and during the term of the Fifth Knesset, Ben-Gurion resigned the premiership, and Mapai split (1965).

Fourteen lists ran in the elections for the Fifth Knesset, three of which did not pass the 1% electoral threshold. The results did not lead to a real change in the balance of power, but it was possible to identify trends with respect to the future. Mapai lost five seats and declined to 42; the New Liberal Party—formed by the merger between the General Zionists and the Progressives—received 17 seats, making their power equal to that of Herut; the religious parties, Ahdut Ha’Avoda, and Mapam all preserved their power, for the most part, while Maki received even more support than previously from the Arab population.

Mapai encountered difficulties in forming a coalition, even though no one else could form a government. The negotiations lasted four months because the NRP, the Liberals, Ahdut Ha’Avoda, and Mapam (46 seats combined) formed a common front to negotiate with Mapai. Levi Eshkol, who handled the negotiations for Ben-Gurion, eventually succeeding in putting together a coalition of 68 MKs, with Ahdut Ha’Avoda and the NRP, and with the support of Poalei Agudat Yisrael and the Arab lists. The preference of Ahdut Ha’Avoda over Mapam paved the way for the former to join Mapai in establishing the Alignment prior to the next elections.

Elections for the 5th 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 349,330 42 34.7 Candidates Candidates
Herut 138,599 17 13.8 Candidates Candidates Platform Platform
Liberal Party 137,255 17 13.6 Candidates Candidates
National Religious Party 98,786 12 9.8 Candidates Candidates
Mapam 75,654 9 7.5 Candidates Candidates Platform Platform
Labor Unity 66,170 8 6.6 Candidates Candidates Platform Platform
Maki 42,111 5 4.2 Candidates Candidates
Agudat Yisrael 37,178 4 3.7 Candidates Candidates Platform Platform
Poalei Agudat Yisrael 19,428 2 1.9 Candidates Candidates
Shituf Ve-Ahva 19,342 2 1.9 Candidates Candidates
Progress and Development 16,034 2 1.6 Candidates Candidates
Progress and Work 3,561 - 0.4 Candidates Candidates
Religious Sephardim List 3,181 - 0.3 Candidates Candidates
Supporters of Democracy 335 - 0.0 Candidates Candidates