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

About the 2009 Elections

Ehud Olmert’s term as Prime Minister, was marred by the Second Lebanon War and his involvement in a series of criminal investigations. The first threat to the government’s stability came from the direction of the new-old leader of the Labor Party, Minister of Defense Ehud Barak (who replaced Amir Peretz in 2007). Barak promised to lead his party out of the government after the publication of the final report of the Winograd Commission that examined the events of the War, but even after publication of the report Labor remained in the government. In May, 2008, after the central testimony in one of the affairs in which the Prime Minister was involved, Barak declared that if Kadima would not take action to replace Olmert, Labor would move for early elections. This threat, although not a formal ultimatum, led Olmert to give the green light for leadership primaries in Kadima, in which he would not run, and stated that he would resign once a new leader was chosen.

In the Kadima primaries in September 2008, Tzipi Livni beat Shaul Mofaz, Meir Sheetrit, and Avi Dichter. True to his word, Olmert submitted his resignation to the President, who called upon Livni to form a new government. The coalition negotiations that Livni held failed, and after the President realized that there was no majority for an alternative government, early elections were called for February 2009.
The main struggle in the election campaign was between Kadima and the Likud. Public opinion polls showed that Labor would straggle behind, and for the first time would not be one of the two largest parties. The election results were indecisive. On the one hand, Kadima prevailed over the Likud (28 over 27 seats) and remained the largest party in the Knesset. This surprising “victory led Livne to demand the right to try to form a government. However, it was clear that there was a majority among the parliamentary groups supporting a government headed by the Likud and Netanyahu. Consequently, after consultation with representatives of the parliamentary groups, the President called on Netanyahu to form a new government.

The Zionist left-wing parties continued to decline. Labor shrunk to 13 seats (the fourth largest party), and Meretz received only three seats. Yisrael Beytenu did very well with 15 seats, while the Arab parties increased their joint power to 11 seats. In the center of the map Gil failed to pass the electoral threshold, whereas on the more extreme right, an attempt to unite the parties into one joint list had failed. The Netanyahu government rested on a coalition of six parliamentary groups: the Likud, Yisrael Beytenu, the Labor Party, Shas, Yahadut HaTorah and HaBayit HaYehudi. The new government enjoyed the support of 74 MKs. The government included 32 ministers. 


Additional Reading

Asher Arian and Michal Shamir (eds.) The Elections in Israel-2009, Transaction Publishing, 2011.

Gideon Rahat and Reuven Y. Hazan, "One Winner, Two Winners, No Winners: The 2009 Elections in Israel", Representation 45 (4) (2009), pp. 405-420.

Reuven Y. Hazan and Abraham Diskin, "The Parliamentary Election in Israel, February 2009", Electoral Studies 28 (4) (2009), pp. 654-657.

Elections for the 18th 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 758,032 28 22.5 Candidates Candidates Platform Platform
Likud 729,054 27 21.6 Candidates Candidates Platform Platform
Yisrael Beitenu 394,577 15 11.7 Candidates Candidates Platform Platform
Labor Party 334,900 13 9.9 Candidates Candidates
Shas 286,300 11 8.5 Candidates Candidates Platform Platform
United Torah Judaism 147,954 5 4.4 Candidates Candidates
Ra'am-Ta'al 113,954 4 3.4 Candidates Candidates Platform Platform
National Union 112,570 4 3.3 Candidates Candidates Platform Platform
Hadash 112,130 4 3.3 Candidates Candidates Platform Platform
Meretz 99,611 3 3.0 Candidates Candidates Platform Platform
The Jewish Home 96,765 3 2.9 Candidates Candidates
Balad 83,739 3 2.5 Candidates Candidates
Green Movement-Meimad 27,737 - 0.8 Candidates Candidates
Gil 17,571 - 0.5 Candidates Candidates
Green Leaf 13,132 - 0.4 Candidates Candidates
Greens 12,378 - 0.4 Candidates Candidates
Yisrael Chazaka 6,722 - 0.2 Candidates Candidates
Tzabar 4,752 - 0.1 Candidates Candidates
Koah LeHashpi'a 3,696 - 0.1
Daam 2,645 - 0.1 Candidates Candidates
Yisrael HaMithadeshet 2,572 - 0.1 Candidates Candidates
Holocaust Survivors and Green Leaf Alumni 2,346 - 0.1 Candidates Candidates
Leeder 1,887 - 0.1 Candidates Candidates
Tzomet 1,520 - 0.1 Candidates Candidates
Koah HaKesef 1,008 - 0.0 Candidates Candidates
Men's Rights in the Family (Ra-ash) 921 - 0.0 Candidates Candidates
HaYisraelim 856 - 0.0 Candidates Candidates
Or 815 - 0.0 Candidates Candidates
Ahrayut 802 - 0.0 Candidates Candidates
Brit Olam 678 - 0.0 Candidates Candidates
Lev 632 - 0.0 Candidates Candidates
Lazuz 623 - 0.0 Candidates Candidates
Lehem 611 - 0.0 Candidates Candidates