Support for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party fell significantly into traditional strongholds in Tuesday’s national elections, in which the prime minister and his right-wing religious allies fell short of a majority for the fourth time in two years.
According to final results released Thursday, Likud received 1,066,595 votes in the March 23 election, making it the largest Knesset party with 30 seats.
The figure marked a sharp decline from the previous round of elections in March 2020, when Likud garnered 1,352,449 votes, a record for an Israeli political party. Those votes translated into 36 Knesset seats, the best result for Likud under Netanyahu’s leadership.
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In Ashkelon, where the Likud won 34,677 votes last March, or 48.1 percent of all votes cast in the southern coastal city, the party’s turnout fell to 27,103 this time, or 40.02 percent of the total. .
Sderot, the rocket-hit city near the Gaza Strip, also saw a drop in support for the party, with the vote count falling from 6,861 last year (51.15%) to 5,228 on Tuesday (41.16%). ).
A similar phenomenon was observed in the northern city of Migdal HaEmek, where this week the Likud obtained 4,873 votes (37.98%). Last year it obtained 6,093 votes (45.33%).
These cases were representative of the party’s performance in many other small towns.
The Likud also drew support in large cities, with the vote count in Jerusalem falling from 72,601 to 51,237, in Tel Aviv from 58,363 to 44,573, in Haifa from 38,464 to 29,269 and in Beersheba from 49,801 to 38,604.
A report on Thursday said Likud members were “shocked” by the election results, and began pointing fingers at who was responsible for the drop in support.
According to Kan’s news, some Likud legislators blamed MK Shlomo Karhi, the vice chairman of the party’s electoral committee who was in charge of representatives in polling stations.
“You didn’t deliver,” Netanyahu reportedly told Karhi.
The report says Likud officials believe the former supporters simply stayed home during this round, although they may have migrated to other parties as well.
Karhi told Kan that he has “full backing” from Netanyahu and accused his critics of being “jealous” and “dreaming dreams that never happened.”
With all the ballots counted as of Thursday, Netanyahu’s right-wing and religious supporters had 52 seats, while the parties that opposed the prime minister had 57 among them. The right-wing Yamina party (with 7) and the Islamist Ra’am (with 4) have not compromised with either side.
Netanyahu would need both sides to achieve a small majority, but cooperation between the far right and Ra’am’s Islamists seemed almost impossible.
Meanwhile, a possible “coalition of change” of Yesh Atid, Blue and White, Yamina, Yisrael Beytenu, Labor, New Hope and Meretz would have 58 votes, also three less than the majority.
With both the prime minister and his political opponents once again without a clear path to form a coalition government, the political stalemate looked set to continue, leading to a possible fifth election.
The formal election results will be presented to President Reuven Rivlin next Wednesday. The Central Elections Committee said there was a possibility of change until then, but that it was generally considered unlikely.