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

About the 2006 Elections

The elections for the 17th Knesset were a road mark in Israel. For the first time a party that was neither Mapai/Ma’arach/Labor nor the Likud came to power. The previous Knesset served under the shadow of the withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in 2005. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon (Likud) got the plan approved by the Knesset, but with great difficulty, in view of the strong opposition within his own party. In the fall of 2005, following the withdrawal, the government was in distress. First of all, within the Likud there was an active front that opposed the Prime Minister, which made it difficult for him to take decisions. Secondly, in November, primaries for party Chairman were held in the Labor Party, the senior partner in the coalition. Contrary to expectations, Amir Peretz won against Shimon Peres, and took the party out of the coalition. This led to the government losing its Knesset majority.

In this situation Sharon initiated two moves: He announced his breaking away from the Likud (of which he had been one of the founders) and the establishment of a new centrist political framework. At the same time he decided to ask the President to dissolve the Knesset and call early elections. The new political framework that Sharon established together with another 12 Knesset members from the Likud was named “Kadima.” Shimon Peres, Haim Ramon and Dalia Itzik from the Labor Party also joined Kadima in December, 2005. The elections were set for March, 2006, and the early public opinion surveys predicted a landslide victory for Sharon and Kadima. However, in early January, Sharon suffered a stroke and did not regain consciousness. Ehud Olmert was appointed acting Prime Minister, and a heavy shadow was cast over Kadima’s chances to succeed without its popular founder. A further development occurred at the end of January, with the surprising victory of the Hamas in the elections for the Palestinian Legislative Council.

Though the election resulted in a clear victory for Kadima, this was not to the extent that its founders had hoped. Kadima received 29 seats, as opposed to Labor’s disappointing 19, under Peretz, who was viewed as a social leader. The Likud, without Sharon, declined to only 12 seats - the same number that Shas received. In the center Shinui, caught up in a bitter internal struggle, which caused its split, was wiped off the political map, losing all of its 15 seats. The pensioners’ list, Gil, that attracted many of those who had previously voted for Shinui, received a surprising seven seats. In the coalition formed by Olmert there were four parliamentary groups: Kadima, the Labor Party, Shas and Gil, and in total the government had a majority of 67 MKs. 

Additional Reading

Asher Arian and Michal Shamir (eds.), The Elections in Israel 2006, New Brunswick: Transaction, 2008.

Shmuel Sandler, Manfred Gerstenfeld and Jonathan Rynhold (eds.) Israel at the Polls 2006, London: Routledge, 2008.

Reuven Y. Hazan and Abraham Diskin. "The 2006 Parliamentary Elections in Israel," Electoral Studies 27 (3), pp. 707-711.

Reuven Y. Hazan, "Israel's 'Big Bang': The Parliamentary Elections of 2006", Representation 42 (3) (2006), pp. 243-52.

Elections for the 17th 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
Kadima 690,901 29 22.0 Candidates Candidates Platform Platform
Labor Party 472,366 19 * 15.1 Candidates Candidates Platform Platform
Shas 299,054 12 9.5 Candidates Candidates Platform Platform
Likud 281,996 12 9.0 Candidates Candidates Platform Platform
Yisrael Beitenu 281,880 11 9.0 Candidates Candidates Platform Platform
National Union 224,083 9 7.1 Candidates Candidates Platform Platform
Gil 185,759 7 5.9 Candidates Candidates Platform Platform
United Torah Judaism 147,091 6 4.7 Candidates Candidates
Meretz 118,302 5 3.8 Candidates Candidates Platform Platform
Ra-am Ta-al 94,786 4 3.0 Candidates Candidates
Hadash 86,092 3 2.7 Candidates Candidates Platform Platform
Balad 72,066 3 2.3 Candidates Candidates
Greens 47,595 - 1.5 Candidates Candidates
Green Leaf 40,353 - 1.3 Candidates Candidates
United Religious Front 24,824 - 0.8 Candidates Candidates
Tafnit (Uzi Dayan) 18,753 - 0.6 Candidates Candidates
Atid Ehad 14,005 - 0.4 Candidates Candidates
Hetz 10,113 - 0.3 Candidates Candidates
Shinui 4,675 - 0.1 Candidates Candidates
Justice for All (Tzedek Lakol) 3,819 - 0.1 Candidates Candidates
Daam 3,692 - 0.1 Candidates Candidates
Herut 2,387 - 0.1 Candidates Candidates
HaLeV 2,163 - 0.1 Candidates Candidates
Brit Olam 2,011 - 0.1 Candidates Candidates
Lev 1,765 - 0.1 Candidates Candidates
Lehem 1,381 - 0.0 Candidates Candidates
Tzomet 1,342 - 0.0 Candidates Candidates
New Zionism 1,278 - 0.0 Candidates Candidates
Strength to the Poor (Oz LaAniyim) 1,214 - 0.0 Candidates Candidates
National Arab Party 738 - 0.0 Candidates Candidates
Leeder 580 - 0.0 Candidates Candidates