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Knesset (Parliament)

A historical Archive of past election results for this chamber can be found on a separate page

Parliament name (generic / translated) Knesset / Parliament
Structure of parliament Unicameral
Dates of election / renewal (from/to) 28 March 2006
Purpose of elections Elections were held for all the seats in Knesset following its early dissolution on 24 November 2005. General elections had previously been held in January 2003.
Parliamentary elections, originally scheduled for November 2006, were held on 28 March 2006, four months after the collapse of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's government on 20 November 2005. The government had been in difficulty since Israel's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip began in August 2005, which caused deep rifts within Mr. Sharon's Likud Party. On 9 November 2005, Mr. Amir Peretz became leader of the Labour Party, and took Labour out of the coalition government.

Mr. Sharon, who had helped found the centre-right Likud Party in 1973, subsequently established a new party called Kadima ("Forward" in Hebrew). Mr. Sharon said Kadima would seek to end the longtime domination of Israeli politics by Likud and Labour. He announced that his party would support the creation of a Palestinian State, while at the same time maintaining all of Jerusalem under Israeli control. A number of leading figures on the left and right, including former Labour leader and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mr. Shimon Peres, and Likud Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz, joined the new party.

Mr. Sharon suffered a major stroke in mid-December 2005, which left him incapacitated and unable to continue his political duties. Nevertheless, his legacy continued to cast a shadow over the election campaign. Kadima was led into the elections by interim Prime Minister Mr. Ehud Olmert. Mr. Peretz emphasized Labour's social platform, while Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu, who had been elected as Likud's new leader in December 2005, insisted that additional unilateral territorial pullbacks would merely increase Israel's vulnerability to terrorist attacks. Many observers viewed the elections as a referendum on future policy in the occupied territories of the West Bank.

Voting went off without any major incidents although a record low 63.55 per cent of the five million registered voters turned out at the polls.

The final results gave Kadima 29 seats, followed by the Labour Party with 19 seats. Other possible coalition partners for Kadima won a total of 30 seats: the Sephardi ultra-orthodox Shas party obtained 12, followed by the Gil (Pensioners Party) with a surprising seven seats; the ultra-orthodox Torah Judaism and the left-wing Meretz respectively won six and five seats. On the right, Likud came in first with 12 seats, followed by the far-right parties Yisrael Beitenu and the National Union - National Religious Party (Ichud Leumi - Mafdal: NRP) which won respectively 11 and nine seats. The remaining ten seats went to three predominantly Arab parties: Hadash, National Democratic Alliance (Balad) and United Arab List (Ra'am).

After one month of negotiations, on 30 April 2006, Kadima formed a coalition government with Labour, Shas and Gil, thus controlling 67 seats in the 120-member Parliament.

On 4 May 2006, the newly-elected parliament held its first sitting and elected Ms. Dalia Itzik of Kadima as its new Speaker, the first woman to assume the post.
Voter turnout
Round no 128 March 2006
Number of registered electors
Blank or invalid ballot papers
Valid votes
3'186'739 (63.55%)
Distribution of votes
Round no 1
Political Group Candidates Votes %
Kadima 690'901 22.02
Labour Party 472'366 15.06
Shas 299'054 9.53
Likud 281'996 8.99
Yisrael Beitenu 281'880 8.99
National Union- National Religious Party (Ichud Leumi - Mafdal: NRP) 224'083 7.14
Gil 185'759 5.92
Torah Judaism 147'091 4.69
Meretz 118'302 3.77
United Arab List (Ra'am) 94'786 3.02
National Democratic Alliance (Balad) 72'066 2.30
Hadash 86'092 2.74
Distribution of seats
Round no 1
Political Group Total
Kadima 29
Labour Party 19
Shas 12
Likud 12
Yisrael Beitenu 11
National Union- National Religious Party (Ichud Leumi - Mafdal: NRP) 9
Gil 7
Torah Judaism 6
Meretz 5
United Arab List (Ra'am) 4
National Democratic Alliance (Balad) 3
Hadash 3
Distribution of seats according to sex
Percent of women
Distribution of seats according to age
21 to 30 years
31 to 40 years
41 to 50 years
51 to 60 years
61 to 70 years
Over 70 years
Distribution of seats according to profession
IPU Group (23.04.2006)

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